Prepping for Paddlefest: Q&A with Festival Organizer Luke Macdonald

St. Andrew’s Paddlefest has something for everyone.

The music festival, with a focus on outdoor activities, not only kicks off the summer tourist season in the small seaside town, but also the local festival season. Welcoming the sun and warm air, St. Andrew’s is also welcoming some heavy hitter east coast names including David Myles, The Olympic Symponium, Jennah Barry, Dennis Ellsworth, Keith Hallett and the World’s Fair, Andy Brown, and the list goes on.

The festival runs from Thursday, May 15 to Sunday, May 18. Fredericton Locals caught up with festival organizer Luke Macdonald about the evolution of Paddlefest and what newcomers should expect.


Q. How do you feel Paddlefest fills a gap in New Brunswick summer festival programming?

A. Paddlefest is the official kick off to both the busy summer season in St. Andrews and the festival season in the Maritimes. Being the first of the season gives it a distinguished place in the minds of music lovers and festival-goers, as it’s a chance to kick off summer in style!

The location is also a key factor as St. Andrews is such a well-loved destination in New Brunswick, so it fits perfectly having our event start the season off. Also unique to Paddlefest is our combination of music/art and recreational activities such as caneoing, kayaking, rock climbing, etc., all of which are signature attractions of the region. So it’s a festival for music-lovers and adventure seekers alike (who more often that not are one and the same!)

Q. How have you seen Paddlefest grow since its beginning?

A. Paddlefest started in the late ’90s as a small community event with kayaking, BBQ-ing and kitchen parties, and has since grown into a full on festival with over 30 musical acts this year (including some of the biggest acts it’s ever had), multiple venues and tons of activities and events happening around town.

It’s great to see it grow gradually and attract more people from away, while still maintaing the small town, community-minded approach that it started with.

Q. St. Andrews is a small town but will be welcoming some big names. Can you describe the process of organizing the festival and what the vision was for this year.

A. The musical vision for the festival is to find a good balance between big headlining acts and local favourites. As a small town festival we are limited by the number of venues and resources at our disposal, but we see that as an opportunity for a unique event setting.

A goal this year was to include more local businesses and attractions, so we have shows at places like The Algonquin Resort and Kingsbrae Garden, as well as our Main Stage and bar & restaurant shows.  We try and program the festival so that it has something for everyone, with multiple genres of music at both big and small venues, and activities for paddlers of different levels as well.

Q. What should newcomers to the festival expect? 

A. First timers to Paddlefest can expect a great, relaxing weekend of music, art and fun, with the small town hospitality St. Andrews is known for! We try and keep everything as casual and straightforward as we can. People come to St. Andrews to get away from it all so we try and take that into consideration when planning the event.

There’s no long lines or cabs or traffic jams. The Main Stage is centrally located in the town square and other venues/attractions are within walking distance. In addition to all the music, we encourage everyone to try one of our paddling or outdoor activities, or get out and enjoy some of the sights and attractions of the town.
For more information on tickets and the full schedule, click HERE!
PEI Indie Rockers Paper Lions at Paddlefest 2013

PEI Indie Rockers Paper Lions at Paddlefest 2013

Bluesman Thom Swift at Paddlefest 2013

Bluesman Thom Swift at Paddlefest 2013

Indie Folk Artist Aiden Knight at Paddlefest 2013

Indie Folk Artist Aiden Knight at Paddlefest 2013

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