The on again, off-again Maritime Rockabilly Shakedown Festival is thankfully on again.
During a summer in which the Town of Amherst is celebrating its 125th Anniversary of Incorporation, this award-winning event has become a major seasonal highlight for our downtown.
Officials of the Maritime Rockabilly Shakedown Festival had announced earlier last week that the popular music event had to be shelved this year because of a funding shortfall. Fortunately, there was a positive turn of events over the next 24 hours that resulted in the festival organizers able to secure enough additional funding to stage the early August festival.
With some 11th hour negotiations involving Cumberland North MLA Terry Farrell and Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodobit Valley MP Scott Armstrong, the additional federal government funding was secured to resurrect Maritime Rockabilly Festival 3.
As a not for profit organization, MARS relies on funding sources to enable the upfront costs associated with a festival of this size and nature. Festival creator Davey Lee Goode was quick to stress that the Town of Amherst has been 100 per cent behind their efforts and has remained a strong financial backer.
The loss of the festival for this summer would have been a major blow considering the impact the festival has had on this community with its potential as a growing tourist attraction and an economic stimulator for our downtown. After years of trying to find an attraction and/or event that we could call our own, this rather unique blend of American roots music with its other elements of entertainment appears to be the niche we’ve been looking for ... the perfect combination.
With their many international contacts and connections, the Goode Family has made Amherst the East Coast Canada destination for Rockabilly music. Rockabilly spans three generations and maybe that is why it’s wide appeal was the perfect fit for Amherst.
Rockabilly was after all the launching pad for rock and roll and its originators included Elvis, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.
In the case of this festival, along with the music comes the wide array of street vendors, the antique cars and of course, the people. Rarely has Amherst’s downtown seen such a huge influx of people for any single event than Maritime Rockabilly Festival 1 in Victoria Park on the Saturday night.
Compliments to Davey Goode and his crew for their tireless efforts in putting together such an ambitious weekend of activitie which includes performers with an international reputation. Their determination and persistence has paid off and the show will go on again this summer. Hopefully, the residents, businesses and organizations from throughout Cumberland/Westmorland will continue to show their support for the festival and ensure it becomes a permanent fixture on the local entertainment scene for years to come.
Geoff deGannes is a past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.