The Westfest lineup was announced at a media launch on March 14.
Musical acts include George Leach, Maria Hawkins, and A Tribe Called Red. The Saturday night headliner is Ashley MacIsaac, and Ottawa’s The Peptides, are opening. Sunday night, as per Westfest tradition, is all about showcasing Ottawa artists, and includes Kitchissippi’s Pony Girl.
Westfest will be taking place June 13-15, and the main stage will once again be behind the Real Canadian Superstore. Richmond Road will be closed between Berkley and McCrae Avenues and “fully programmed” with free activities.
Christine Leadman, former Kitchissippi Ward councillor and former executive director of the Westboro BIA, attended the launch. She recalls the original incarnation of the Westboro festival, which was called Westboro Days and included a parade and a street party. Part of it was a garage sale too.
“The community was invited and we put out tables on the main street,” remembers Leadman. “It grew from that… and here we are today.”
This will be Westboro Village BIA executive director Mary Thorne’s second year participating in Westfest. She is excited about this year’s musical lineup.
“Once again it speaks to the whole purpose and the whole idea of Westfest, of supporting new and emerging artists,” says Thorne. “Mind you, Ashley isn’t new or emerging, but he’s a wild man, a rebel from Cape Breton,” she laughs. Thorne is also from Cape Breton and predicts that his performance is sure to get concert goers “all fired up.”
MPP Yasir Naqvi also shared his excitement at the official launch event.
“Westfest has been just incredible to our community here in Westboro,” says Naqvi. “Not only in terms of engaging the entire community and merchants, but residents in this area and people from all corners of Ottawa.”
Mayor Jim Watson called Westfest founder Elaina Martin a “spiritual hero” who has “worked very hard to build Westfest into what it is today.”
“Because of Elaina’s passion and commitment, we have one of the greatest free festivals, not just anywhere in Ottawa, but anywhere in Canada,” says Watson.
Watson also thanked the local businesses for their dedication and sponsorship, ensuring the festival remains free.
Keeping it free for the past 11 years has been a challenge for Martin. She’s recently had to cut her staff from seven full time staff down to two.
“I just had to step out of my own box, and stop worrying about this thing. I had to regroup,” says Martin. “I’m happy to do it as long as I can, and I’m going to stop worrying about the future, and just keep planning it.
“I think it means a lot to the people of Westboro, they’re planning their family gatherings and events around it. It’s become a part of the locals’ calendar, and they own it.”