Acoustic music festival popular draw for Kempt Shore

Published on July 17, 2017

KEMPT SHORE, N.S. – Rows and rows of camper trailers, motorhomes and tents lined the West Hants coastline as the 13th annual Kempt Shore Acoustic Maritime Music Festival got underway.

Thousands of people from the area - and some from as far away as Europe - sang along to some of the biggest names in the singer/songwriter genre in Atlantic Canada and beyond.

Former first responder turned performer Kevin Davison played for the first time at the festival, which he said was a special moment for him.

“It has been amazing, this festival is kind of a hidden gem, but more and more are starting to realize how such a great event this is,” Davison said on the final day of the festival, just before hopping on the stage again.

“The people here have just been so amazing, the crowd is great, people are camping and just loving life. That’s what I love the most.”

Davison performed on July 13 and 14 before wrapping up on a sunny July 16.

“I’ve always heard about this festival, and I’ve tried for a while to actually get here, but it’s so hard to get into this line-up, It features some of the best Atlantic Canadian artists out there right now," he said.

“For me to get the call this year, it was a great thing."

Being right on the Kempt Shore was a boon for Davison as well.

“My kids are here, and they’re from Avonport and I got to walk along the beach with them and show them Avonport from the other side, which they’ve never seen,” he said. “It’s a beautiful spot.”

Marc Peterson, the owner of the campground and festival operator, said he was very impressed with the calibre of local talent at this year’s show, which included Heather Rankin and Dave Gunning.

“We’re showcasing original singer-songwriters from the Maritimes and honorary members as well,” he said.

Peterson said on average 4,500 people attend, but some years have seen as many as 7,000.

Bringing tourism and economic activity to the Hants Shore region was the original intent of the festival, he said.

“We’re an economically deprived area, as is most of rural Nova Scotia, so I said, 'Well I have this property, so maybe I could run a music festival',” he said. “When people come here, they don’t just spend money, they want to spend money.”

Peterson said people from all over the world come to check out the performances, and indeed, many license plates from outside Nova Scotia could be seen amongst the campers and cars on the site.

The audience cheers on as David Francey performs, throwing in some personal stories between songs.
Colin Chisholm

Margot Bishop, from Wolfville, said she always tries to come to the Kempt Shore Music Festival, even when she’s busy with other activities.

“Because it’s the best one, it’s really special. It’s local, it’s easy to get to, and it’s well-run,” she said.

“There’s always somebody playing that you know. It’s just a remarkable festival.”

Did you know?

This year’s headliners included Heather Rankin, David Francey, J.P Cormier, Dave Gunning, Old Man Luedecke, Kevin Davison, Matt Minglewood, Christine Campbell, The Good Lovelies and many more.