Take the sea, the sand, Beach Chair Lager and country music, roll it all into one, and get one of the top country music festivals in Canada. The Cavendish Beach Music Festival attracts over 70k fans for three days and showcases the best of country music, local cuisine and hospitality. The festival highlights the beautiful tourist destination of Prince Edward Island (PEI) on Canada’s east coast. For Jeff Squires, the CEO of Whitecap Entertainment and producer of the festival, it was the first thing that came to mind when choosing a location.
“One of the things that we do very well here at PEI is tourism and hospitality and we have beautiful surroundings,” he told Amplify. “So our thoughts were that we take all those natural assets that we have — beach, beautiful landscape, rolling hills, greenery, campgrounds, cottages — and we insert world-class country music to it.”
The festival rounds out a trio of popular country festivals in Canada; Cavendish Beach Music Festival along with Big Valley Jamboree in Alberta and Boots and Hearts in Ontario, are recognized as leading festivals in the Canada. Along with being located in a popular tourist destination, the festival’s country focus draws in a lot of fans.
“I think modern country music appeals to a wide demographic from the very young to the very old,” said Squires. “Our target market is 1.8 million people, of which a large percentage is very rural and they can really identify with country music.”
Now going into its eighth year, the festival has enjoyed its location in the local community of Cavendish, where they built a permanent 25-acre festival site in 2010 complete with a main stage, parking, VIP and corporate hosting areas and kitchens. The site has very unique VIP spaces, all with different viewing points, a Sunroof with private catering and different activation, as well as premium seating in the Hayloft area.
“There’s up to 100 seats in that [Hayloft] area where people are actually sitting, stage right, right on the stage,” said Squires. “We’ve made some pretty neat spaces within the whole venue space.”
Since it’s a permanent site, the festival has become very much a part of the local community and enjoys a lot of local support in way of sponsorships and food vendors on site.
“One of the unique things about our festival is that a local brewery is the official brewery of the festival. Beach Chair Lager is the beer – beautiful, light, 4.5% lager,” said Squires. “Not to mention that a lot of the vendors that are on site are local vendors that bring their own local food products.”
Prince Edward Island, a.k.a. the “food island,” brings out the best in East Coast cuisine including local seafood (Squires said that oyster shuckers are on site each day), donairs from Tony’s Meats and all kinds of food presentations from Michigan-based chef Matt Moore. The venue also has its own restaurant called Gahan Restaurant.
“There’s a full patio, it’s a brew pub, it sets up with its own stage and the restaurant’s full to the back all weekend,” said Squires.
In the past, the festival has had headliners such as Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum and Tim McGraw and has lasted between three to five days, changing every year. Headliners for this year’s festival include Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, The Band Perry and Old Dominion.
“Meridian Entertainment Group and Kevin Meyer have done a tremendous job over the last eight years with booking our talent and scheduling our rosters,” said Squires. “We’ve worked very closely with them in a business relationship and they’re a big part of what we do here.”
Squires expects over 25K fans per day during this year’s festival.
“PEI has a lot of family-friendly attractions, and to put music in there as part of the family experience of going on vacation is just such a natural fit,” he said. “It’s definitely a signature event for anyone that wants to plan a vacation to the East Coast of Canada, and it’s definitely something that they should plan to do and put on their bucket list.”
The festival dates for this year are July 8-10. For more information and tickets, check out cavendishbeachmusic.com