Summer Lovin' at Deep River's Summerfest
The community of Deep River, Ont. is thriving in the sunshine once again as Summerfest has returned for the first time since 2018.
The mid-summer weekend event - Deep River's biggest weekend of the year - is usually held bi-annually, but was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
"It's exciting," says Summerfest chair Kristin Hawley.
"It's a lot of work but it's totally worth it to see everyone come together. Deep River Summerfest has become a bit of a reunion for some people and a bit of a homecoming."
Those bonds could be seen all along Depp River's waterfront as the long weekend event was in full swing.
"I remember being downtown here with everybody, being around the bouncy castles and being with your friends, doing art activities," recalls Grace Myers, who grew up in Deep River but now lives in Ottawa. "It's just really strong memories from childhood."
"We just come up to see family, check out the music," adds her brother Ben Myers. "Our mom and dad still live here, our grandma still lives here too so there's enough space for everybody to come and stay for the weekend."
The weekend is also big for the town and its businesses, with the population of roughly 4,500 almost doubling when Summerfest rolls around.
"Summerfest has historically drawn close to three or four thousand people," Deep River Mayor Suzanne D'Eon told CTV News. "It's our biggest economic driver."
While reuniting the town, Summerfest is also a local music festival, showcasing a number of musicians from across the Ottawa Valley, many of whom may not have had a stage this grand previously.
"I'll tell you, it's exciting," says Kurt Wittig, guitarist for Pembroke-based band Sawmill Road. "I haven't seen some of these people in a few decades and I hope they come and enjoy what we have to offer today."
Wittig grew up in Chalk River, minutes down the road from Deep River. He helped recently form Sawmill Road within the last year, who say Summerfest is their biggest show to date.
"Kurt has been saying for weeks that it's a bucket list thing," said lead singer Josh Coleman. "So this one is a big one."
The festival, now in its 32nd year, aims to prioritize the local talent.
"It's fun to see your friends and family going up on stage," says Hawley.
And as I mentioned it is sort of a reunion for a lot of people, so it's great to get people that people recognize up on the stage."