ROTHESAY– Canadian 80’s hard rockers Haywire will be bringing the party to the Kennebecasis Valley this summer for Vito’s renamed KV Music Festival taking place August 28 – 31.
Now in its 13th year, the festival was previously known as the KV Jazz & Blues Festival. But Vito’s co-owner, “Big” George Georgoudis, said that in 2018 the festival’s organizing committee decided it was time for a rebrand and look at how the festival can continue to grow in the years to come.
“We looked at going forward and what else we can do, knowing that some festivals don’t last as long as others and we wanted to keep it going,” says Georgoudis. “That was sort of the thought process.”
By taking “jazz & blues” out of the name, he says the festival is now better positioned to bring in more variety, and in some cases bigger acts.
“That was one of the concerns. Music wise, the genre had parameters,” says Georgoudis. “Now, it gives us more flexibility and more opportunities to find more local talent in the area and not just be jazz and blues, it can be anything.”
Besides headliner Haywire, the festival will also feature performances from Ethan Ash, Chris Cummings, Partyline, Dave Carroll, Midnight Casuals, Halifax Pier and Suit & Ties. Performances take place in different locations in Rothesay and Quispamsis during the week, with the main headlining event taking place August 31 at Vito’s Rothesay location.
“The objective was we still wanted to cater to the existing crowds that were coming. We wanted to make sure they were still a focus for us,” says Georgoudis. “Now with some of these acts, we might possibly get some new, fresh, demographics.”
The festival’s main Friday Night event usually brings out 1,000- 1,200 people with over 2,000 people attending the events throughout the week, many of them residents of Rothesay and Quispamsis. This year, organizers are hoping to attract more people.
“Ideally, I would like to see more of the Saint Johners come,” says Georgoudis. “The majority of the people are definitely from the Valley. But we want to capture some of our audiences in the Greater Saint John Area, ideally.”
Also, new this year, the music festival is partnering with the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation. A portion of the festival’s ticket and liquor sales will go towards the purchase buy a new 3D Mammography unit for the hospital.
“The way the event has been going, it’s an opportunity now to say, ‘why don’t we really try to make it a win-win’ for everybody and see if we can raise some extra funds for someone local,” says Georgoudis.
Georgoudis admits that the music festival has helped raise Vito’s buisness profile in the community over the last 13 years, but like the other community initiatives the family business gets involved in over its more than 45-year history, it’s never been about making more money.
“The thing about us as a family, we’re very modest and we don’t pound our chest. Sometimes we do things and don’t realize some of the good we’re doing in the community,” he says. “We just like to be part of things. So when the music festival started, it was all about, ‘let’s just have a party.’ At the end of the day, it was, ‘let’s do something for the community, let’s do something for our staff and our customers.’ ”
With bringing in a bigger act like Haywire this year, organizers see the event only growing from here.
“We ultimately want it to be the event you don’t want to miss,” says music coordinator Heather Brittain. “You want to stay home that long weekend because you don’t want to miss the event.”
“Who knows where we can take this. But I think we’re at a step where we might just take another step up ahead next year,” says Georgoudis.