Get inside the heads of this year’s Westfest hosts!

We asked the Westfest hosts to tell us what they’re looking forward to most at Westfest. Here’s what some of them had to say: 

Oo Aqpik: “My first Westfest experience was when I was working for Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) in 2008. I knew a few people working there like Jake Hanna, a videographer. He had backstage access and invited me behind the scenes where I got to meet and get a photo with Buffy Sainte Marie! That was just the beginning of my Westfest experience and what a great way to start!

“I had just friended Elaina on Facebook when I posted that I was looking for work and what my talents included. Elaina was working on her 2011 line-up including many Inuit artists. She read my post and reached out about hosting 2011 – celebrating Inuit.

“I like to pop in ahead of the crowd to see what is there and take mental notes of what I would like to try. You can always find me at the VIP tent enjoying the music, culture and the beautiful reunion it brings each year.”

Erin Benjamin
: “Westfest reminds me how much I appreciate my neighbours. How different we are and how much the same, and how incredible it can be to stand together in a field and listen to amazing live music with my fellow humans – one of the most uniting, extraordinary experiences we can have. I love the festival’s diversity, the incredible quality of talent… the whole vibe is what a community festival should be about: everyone. This festival is a giant gift to the city and I can’t wait to tear the wrapping paper off this year!”

Anne-Marie Brugger: “I’ve always enjoyed Westfest. Where else can you find such a diverse line-up from indigenous DJ’s, local emerging artists, to family yoga and a gospel choir?!  And all for FREE!  There is something for everyone. If you’re into the blues, I highly recommend the Lucas Haneman Express, a local blues band led by a legally blind guitar virtuoso. More blues? Don’t miss Saturday night headliners, MonkeyJunk, who will easily take this party to a whole other level. Also back from a hiatus with a new album, Susan O takes the stage on Sunday afternoon. I haven’t seen Lemon Cash, so I am looking forward to witnessing the final headliner of the weekend.”

Thom Fountain: “The anticipation of the 2nd edition of Westfest in its new location and building upon what was accomplished last year. Its location at Laroche Park was well received. Elaina has had a year to think about it and this should provide an even better experience. Tying in with Canada 150, we get 150 acts to enjoy over the three days. There will be great new discoveries, which is always a treat. Still free, still local and proud to be the Main Stage sponsor once again!”

Andre Gagne: “Returning to Westfest every year is like coming back to the world’s biggest family reunion. Elaina and her team have really shown how to bring a community together and though nearly all are strangers you do get this sense of unification at this festival that you don’t necessarily find at some of the others in town. I love how last year expanded upon that by moving off the streets and into a picnic type vibe. Add a line-up of all local entertainment and you have a fest that really represents this city. Ain’t no party like a Westfest party!”

Lisa Georges: “Besides the amazing lineup, we’ve developed a number of new partnerships this year – Pagecloud, Art is in, Top Shelf Distillers, Buchipop and more! I’m excited to see how those partners engage with the audience and enhance the festival experience overall.”

Amanda Jette Knox: “Normally, I get up on stage to speak about human rights issues and encourage society to learn about and embrace the LGBTQ community. This time, I get to take the stage to introduce some incredible artists. I love what I do, but this sounds like so much fun! Westfest is also big on inclusion and creating safe and welcoming spaces for all community members, which is something I can really get behind.”

Jeff Leiper:  “Can’t beat Westfest’s music, food and art, but this year I’m again looking forward to hanging out with a few thousand of my closest Kitchissippi friends in the park. Westfest is a unique community-building opportunity that keeps us connected to the artists, businesses and people who make the ‘hood so special.”

Terry Marcotte: “I love live music and having a chance to talk to musicians. They are some of the most interesting and generous people you’ll find. Monkey Junk is a great band. I asked to be MC when they are on the venue to have a chance to watch them perform. And the whole idea of Westfest is perfect. Because it is free many people who might not be able to afford it get a chance to be inspired by some great musicians. Hope it doesn’t rain.”

Patrick McCormack: “At Westfest this year, I look forward to celebrating Canadian art and culture through community engagement in hip hop music, dance, visual art, and spoken word. I especially look forward to seeing performances by local hip hop artists Deejay NDN (A Tribe Called Red), Aspects, Jah’Kota, Cody Coyote, and Jesse Dangerously & Young K as these artists contribute greatly to elevating urban arts and culture in our nation’s capital and beyond.”

John Rapp: “I am delighted to be once again having a chance to host part of the Westfest stage with Andrea Tomkins of the Kitchissippi Times! Dovercourt has been part of Westfest since its inception and we have been so lucky to see it grow and change over the years, while staying true to its vision of free to all, a showcase of great Canadian and local talent, and inclusive of all ages and abilities. It is a great place to see so many of our friends and neighbours and to make some new friends!”

Andrea Tomkins: “I’ve been attending Westfest since year one and it’s changed and grown so much. As much as I enjoy all of the entertainment, my favourite thing about Westfest is simply reconnecting with my friends and neighbours. I also appreciate the generosity and spirit of volunteerism that goes into an event like this. Did you know that Westfest 2017 is completely volunteer-run! I think that’s amazing. It’s just one of many things that makes our community such a great place to live.”

Learn more about the Westfest hosts and see the full schedule at

Leave a comment