Sarnia Powerboat Festival boasts The Trews, I Mother Earth, Big Sugar, Wide Mouth Mason
BY TYLER KULA, SARNIA OBSERVER MAY 1, 2014
This August’s International Powerboat Festival won’t be a quiet affair.
Organizers with the fourth annual three-day riverfront festival Aug. 8-10 in Sarnia and Port Huron are expecting even more roaring speedsters on the water, and announced four well-known rock bands Thursday for the signature summer affair.
Alternative rockers I Mother Earth will join The Trews, each with a full show, in the festival’s Saturday ticketed concert series. Wide Mouth Mason will open Friday evening’s concert for rock/reggae group Big Sugar.
Both evenings kick off at 8 p.m. at the George Street riverfront parking lot. There’ll also be a 19+ VIP area on the terrace of the St. Clair Corporate Centre, looking down on the concert grounds, where a kickoff “Get Launched Party” will be held Friday.
“We’re in a small intimate venue, so you’ll definitely be up close and personal with the bands,” said co-organizer Michele Stokley. “So I do expect the tickets to go fast.”
Meanwhile plans are to bring in up to 10 of the 40-to-50-foot super class powerboats for Sunday’s races, starting at noon. There were four on the water at last year’s event.
“It’ll just put the race itself in a whole different electrifying mood,” said co-organizer Dave Brown, noting nothing’s been confirmed yet. “We’re pretty pumped about it, to say the least.”
Last year’s festival featured 54/40 and Sarnia-fan favourite The Trews in concert and 29 powerboat drivers rooster tailing along the St. Clair River. It also attracted more than 35,000 people: more than doubling attendance from 2012.
“We’re not really taking baby steps,” said Stokley, who’s said she envisions bringing the festival to a Bayfest-level caliber, potentially incorporating the two in the future.
“It’s Sarnia’s premier festival without a doubt, but I can see it growing more,” she said, predicting attendance will hit 45,000 this year.
World-class buskers will work the streets juggling chainsaws, in addition to stilt-walkers all weekend, Stokley said. There will also be a kids’ workshop downtown on Sunday where they’ll teach youngsters some tricks of the trade.
A Power Wake wakeboarding competition is also back this year, taking place Saturday morning on the waterfront.
Boat parades, powerboat time trials, a meet and greet with drivers, an inflatable kids’ play area, vendors, artists and tall ships are all expected to return.
Outside of the ticketed concerts, the entire weekend is a free affair and last year donated $70,000 to charities from sponsorships and concert ticket sales.
A second stage at Front and Lochiel streets will feature local band Chemical Valley on Friday at 5 p.m., playing a free opening show before the ticketed concert. Smith and the Crazy 8s — featuring the 88s’ Ian Smith — Census and Gorgeous George will play Saturday, starting at noon.
“We’re really excited about the great concerts, but also the on-water activities,” said Scott MacLean, one of two festival chairs.
“We’re seen as one of the best race courses in North America,” he said.
It’s unique, Stokley said, noting the festival is the only split Canadian/U.S. powerboat racing event.
Concert tickets are $40, or $65 for a weekend pass, available starting at noon Thursday at sarniapowerboats.com, Stoke’s Bay and Stoke’s Inland. Complete festival details and event times are at sarniapowerboats.com.