Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Free summer concert series music to the ears of Sarnians

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Sarnia’s parks and rec calendar is jammed with free concerts this summer, including 40 local bands performing at four different parks.

About 70 musical acts of all genres applied to be part of the Sarnia Summer Entertainment Series, says rec director Rachel Veilleux. About 10 of those chosen had never participated before.

“The interest rate has gone through the roof,” she said. “I think it may be because of our tightknit musical community, where word spreads quickly.”

Another factor is the popularity of the Suncor Agora, the new stage at Centennial Park overlooking Sarnia Bay, Veilleux said.

“We love the Agora. It’s so open. You can be any where in the park and you can see the stage.

“It’s a big beautiful space that attracts a lot of people who bring their lawnchairs, and a lot of other people who are just walking in the park and come to see what’s going on.”

Typically, average attendance for a summer concert is 65 people. But last year some shows drew up to 150.

One of those was the inaugural Battle of the Bands for youth under 21. It grew out of the ‘Get Out of the Garage’ program for younger musicians participating in the Summer Entertainment Series.

“It was fantastic, one of my favourite events last summer,” said Veilleux. She had no trouble signing up five competitors for this year’s Battle of the Bands, taking place Friday, June 28 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Suncor Agora.

Battling it out on stage will be Noise Pollution, Rebound Rocks, Round House, Brothers Wilde and Trevor Wagner. Judges include local musicians Missy Burgess, John Tiernay, Scott Elliott and Brian McNair, a representative from Bluewater Borderfest.

The winner will get to play during Canada Day celebrations and open for one of the performers at Borderfest (Aug. 8 -11).

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Summer Entertainment Series, originally called the Waterfront Concert and Entertainment Series.  It began as a free, family-friendly program at Centennial Park in the Dow People Place, which predated the Suncor Agora.

Later, it expanded to include concerts at Canatara Park’s bandshell, Kenwick on the Lake in Bright’s Grove, and Germain Park’s Music in the Garden. Get Out of the Garage is the newest addition.

Veilleux calls the performers a “very eclectic” group, ranging from veteran musicians with their own CDs to casual groups of friends who like to jam together.

This year, the city’s Asheley Clark will post live video from the concerts on the City of Sarnia Facebook page to help promote the series.

For a list of Summer Entertainment Series events consult The Journal’s weekly “What’s Happenings” section or visit and click on Things To Do (Festivals and Special Events).

The Arts Journal celebrates Sarnia’s cultural activities. Send your ideas to [email protected].

More like this