Bluewater Borderfest returns to Centennial Park this summer with a mix of big-name headliners and local acts.
The three-day rock and country music festival in July will feature, among others, The Arkells, Drake White, The Guess Who and Honeymoon Suite.
But heating up the stage for the headliners each night will be local artists, as well as a free Saturday afternoon show boasting all home-grown talent, including Polly Harris, Chad Cusack, Rebound Rocks, Brenda Mayer, Dave Grennan and Brad McLean.
“Sarnia has pretty deep roots with local talent and we really wanted to let that grow,” said Mark Perrin, one of the committee members running the festival.
Perrin said the inaugural Borderfest last year was about getting the word out.
“We did a good job at identifying ourselves as a large-scale music festival that’s bringing in the bigger bands and performers,” he said.
Having Sarnia’s Eric Ethridge kick off last year’s festival inspired the use of even more local opening acts, he said.
“This year we said, ‘let’s do that every day.”
About 5,000 people attended the first festival and about 40% were from the Sarnia area. To draw people from farther away you need big-ticket artists, he said.
“The kind of attraction piece for that is the headliners.”
The Arkells bring star power to Saturday’s concert.
“We reached out and asked how can we make Sarnia happen,” said Perrin. “I think they’re one of Sarnia’s favourite bands.
Saturday also features Matt Mays, Rodney James and The Riot and Dave Russell and The Precious Stones.
Friday’s classic rock show boasts The Guess Who and Honeymoon Suite, along with Jabrito and Aces High.
The Guess Who, it should be noted, features just one of the original band members, drummer Garry Peterson
Thursday is country music night, with Drake White, Drew Jacobs and the Cory James Mitchell Band.
Borderfest recently secured a Celebrate Ontario grant for up to $53,000, which will be used to keep ticket prices low, Perrin said.
Tickets for the July 26-28 festival are expected to go on sale soon and will range from $35.40 plus tax for the Thursday and Friday concerts, and $53.10 plus tax for Saturday.