Local history, community and music came together Saturday in Vienna at the first CreekSong music festival.
Entertaining on the stage were Griffin Noriega, James Wilson, The Schotts (Darrin and Alison), Benjamin Dakota Rogers, Onion Honey, Corin Raymond and Lydia Persaud.
CreekSong founder Tamara Kater (Mavens Music), a longtime festival organizer and music industry person, first discovered the Vienna area during the pandemic in the summer of 2020.
“Like a lot of people vacationing in their own backyard,” said Kater. “My normal summer would be travelling to New York, then Nova Scotia and then Denmark for music festivals.”
Known for organizing Winnipeg and Ottawa folk festivals years ago, Kater had moved into artist management.
“I’ve done a lot of consulting but I haven’t run a music festival in a number of years, and then I ended up out here last summer (renting at a campground) and I really fell in love with the area. I came down the road this way and south towards the lake, and I fell in love with Vienna. This town has really good bones. What a beautiful park … it’s beautiful here.”
She also learned she had a friend in Nashville who grew up in the Vienna/Port Burwell area.
“That sort of catalyzed getting to know the area.”
This summer she bought a camping trailer and settled in with her partner at Otter’s Edge Estates, and learned about the area’s music connections.
“The (Big Otter) Creek was enchanting, Vienna was continually charming, and I learned a little bit more about the history of the area and some of the things that were happening. It all had a lot of potential.”
Kater successfully applied for pandemic culture funding from the federal government meant to put musicians and stage workers and promoters back to work.
Supported by a friend in the Bayham Historical Society, she was able to get the community involved, including participation from craft and food vendors and the local Big Otter Creek paddling outfitters, and many volunteers.
“They have supported it at every step. Without them, without that local community connection, I never would have attempted this. They’ve really been the ambassadors between me, as the new person, and the community that’s been here for a while.”
She also had support from several music colleagues, who helped with the professional stage and sound.
“There are people who have come all the way from Toronto to be here today in Vienna,” said Kater. “I didn’t want this to be a bunch of city people sitting in a country town, but I also wanted to see some people from other places – city or country – to see the beauty of Vienna and the beauty of Elgin County.”