BRADEN HURSH

The Ness Creek Music Festival is a showcase of the diverse art, culture and music found in Saskatchewan. Running July 17–20, the festival will continue the traditions that officially began in 1991.

Over the years, Ness Creek has grown to accommodate its ever-growing popularity.

The festival began as a simple two-day event with seven bands and 200 attendees. Since then it has grown to become the beloved Saskatchewan classic it is today, welcoming over 4,000 concert-goers to a venue with over 30 main stage performances, a community kitchen, a children’s area, as well as drum and dance circles.

Throughout the day and well into the night, Ness offers something for everyone. Various food vendors and craftspeople peddle their wares and free haircuts can be attained in the camp grounds. Shuttle services offer transportation to and from nearby Nesslin Lake where campers can bathe in the sun or enjoy water activities such as canoeing or paddleboarding.

Perhaps the most unique experience to be found at the Ness Creek Music Festival is the overpowering feeling of togetherness. This feeling is exemplified during the circles that bring attendees together for drumming, dancing and sharing everything from thoughts to food.

The main stage line-up this year offers a mixture of local, national and international talent of various and intermingled genres. Ness favourites such as the Big River Boys and Crooked Creek, Saskatoon-based band the Deep Dark Woods, Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, Indigo Joseph, Lindi Ortega, Powder Blue, and the Australian band Wagons will be starring in this year’s lineup. And for those who still have the energy to party after the main stage closes down, the after-hours area plays well into the wee hours of the night. Plus let’s be honest — no one goes to Ness Creek to get a good sleep.

Local music and culture festivals such as Ness Creek, Sasktel Jazz Festival, Regina Folkfest and the Saskatoon Folkfest would not exist without the tireless work of countless volunteers. Over 30 different positions are offered and are assigned based on experience or pre-existing skills. These volunteers sacrifice their time for the good of the festival and are rewarded with free admission, one meal a day and warm showers.

With a music festival that takes place east of Big River in the middle of a beautiful forested area, there are precautions that must be taken and risks to be identified.

As a past first-aid tent volunteer, I saw many of the same injuries and situations that were largely preventable. If you usually wear shoes, perhaps walking around barefoot in the forest is a bad idea. After sitting in the sun and drinking all day, go into the shade and drink some water for a while. If you are taking hallucinogenic drugs, do so in a safe area with clear-headed people nearby. Inform your friends of any pre-existing medical conditions, just in case.

The Ness Creek Music Festival promises to be an amazingly diverse and enjoyable weekend with activities for all ages. Day and week passes are available online and tickets can be purchased at the gate with cash. Enjoy the weekend and happy Ness!