Ontario Festival of Small Halls set to get toes tapping at cherished local halls starting this week

Winchester will again serve as one of the stops during the Ontario Festival of Small Halls. But this year, the venue switches from the Old Town Hall to Winchester United Church (seen in background behind the Sweet Corner Park clock) where Kathleen Edwards is scheduled to play later this month. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

EASTERN ONTARIO — Get ready to clap, snap and toe-tap: the Ontario Festival of Small Halls is embarking on an energetic schedule this week that melds roots, pop, folk, blues, soul and even old-country inspired artists into three weeks of musical bliss on rural stages.

The festival will see internationally-renowned musicians raise the rafters with incredible sound in cherished community spaces across Eastern Ontario from Sept. 13 to 30.

Celebrating five years in 2018, the festival has grown exponentially with the union of renowned musicians, cherished buildings, and community engagement leading to an unforgettable evening for locals and visitors alike. This year, the Ontario Festival of Small Halls expanded to include more than 30 cherished small town spaces with history and heart all across Eastern Ontario.

National and international musicians such as Kathleen Edwards, Colter Wall, Stephen Fearing, Skydiggers, Lindi Ortega, William Prince, Jim Bryson, Mike Plume, NQ Arbuckle, The Redhill Valleys and many more are ready to share small stages with opening acts which are local to each community.

General Manager, Kelly Symes, said to expect captivating and lively performances from established artists and boundary-pushing emerging artists, including opening musicians who have been hand-picked from local communities.

“This year’s line-up celebrates some of Canada’s most cherished singer-songwriters and story-tellers, many of whom live right here in our region,” Symes said, noting that the festival continues to offer a unique concert experience: seeing your favourite artist in a setting which allows you to relish the music and connect with local community.

Familiar faces are also set to join big name musicians on rural stages. Symes said many of the small town venues on the schedule this year have kick-started careers for local musicians by providing an opportunity for them to play at community events like suppers and dances.

“We’re thrilled to showcase that talent by hand-picking local opening musicians to add to the authenticity of hearing music at Ontario’s rural halls during the festival,” said Symes.

To further drive home that down home experience, hall hosts are planning a slate of community events that will be associated with each show. From markets ripe with local produce to savoury barbecue dinners el fresco, and even a wine tasting where you get to keep the glass, the host halls are throwing open their doors to make the 2018 performances of the Ontario Festival of Small Halls even more memorable. Some require reservations so be sure to plan ahead!

For tickets or more info, please visit www.ontariosmallhalls.com or get in touch by phone at 613.402.1425. More than a dozen shows are sold out already, so purchase tickets soon to avoid disappointment! Connect with the Festival of Facebook @FestivalofSmallHallsOntario; on Twitter @smallhallsfest, or Instagram @smallhallsfest.

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