By Andrea Tomkins –
Great news for fans of great Canadian music: The Pursuit of Happiness is headlining Westfest 2018. According to Elaina Martin, founder and producer of Westfest, this will be the first festival performance of The Pursuit of Happiness in over 20 years.
Westfest, which had its origins 15 years ago on Richmond Road in Westboro, moved to Laroche Park in 2016 and focused almost exclusively on Ottawa-area performers that year and in 2017. For 2018, the festival is expanding beyond the National Capital Region and tapping into its history of hosting top Canadian acts.
More performers are being added to the list and will be revealed as details are finalized. One thing that is certain, however, is the date of this year’s Westfest: June 8-10, 2018.
The addition of The Pursuit of Happiness to the lineup is icing on the birthday cake of Westfest’s 15th-anniversary bash, which also happens to be The Pursuit of Happiness’ 30th anniversary of their debut album Love Junk, which was released in 1988. It was the most successful album by the band and went platinum in Canada.
Elaina is confident that the 15th Westfest will be the best one yet. She’s especially proud of how the free festival has grown into a safe and accessible space for everyone.
“It’s a safe space… for people of colour, queer people, people with disabilities,” says Elaina. “It’s something I’ve been working on for 15 years, making different people feel comfortable… that’s what makes Westfest unique and stand out from every other festival. Being free, it just falls under that same umbrella of accessibility.”
The other big news for Westfest 2018 is a venue change. It’s moving from Laroche Park in Mechanicsville to Tom Brown Arena because of soil decontamination work and upgrades at the park.
“The design of how we’re setting up Tom Brown Arena and setting up the space at the back park is phenomenal. I’m so excited about it,” says Elaina. “It’s going to be a stellar year for us.”
There’s a new indoor component to Westfest 2018 as well. The main stage will shut down at 10 p.m. instead of 11 p.m., at which point the action will move inside the arena. Friday night will feature an after hours dance party from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. with Toronto’s Yes Yes Ya’ll and Queer Mafia. River City Junction is providing live entertainment for Saturday’s after party.
In the interests of keeping Westfest free, a crowdsourcing campaign has recently been launched at indiegogo.com. Donations of $20 and up come with perks such as VIP tickets and chances to win an Ultimate Westfest Experience Package, which includes accommodations, dining, backstage tours, and meet and greet with the headliners each night of the festival.