The wind was starting to pick up and the sky grew darker as bands performed on the first night of North Bay’s newest festival, Bay Days.
The weather may have affected crowd size Friday night, but people still managed to make their way to the Kiwanis Bandshell, bundled up in blankets, to support local talent including headliner Cory Marks back from his CMA debut in Nashville.
The inaugural three-day festival replaces Summer in the Park which last year lost nearly a quarter of a million dollars blamed on less than stellar ticket sales and a move to the Memorial Gardens arena.
In what most thought would be a year without a summer festival, a collective of community groups came together at the 11th hour to create Bay Days.
It is a grassroots, non-for-profit event offering mostly free family-friendly activities.
Amy Sheffield and friends took in Friday night’s lineup of performers.
“I think it is great for our local talent to finally be showcased, to just focus on them, not the bands we’re bringing in, but the great bands we already have in town,” said Sheffield who got to the waterfront in time to see Terrorbirds play just ahead of Cory Marks.
“We came to see Cory Marks, but the band playing now is phenomenal (Terrorbirds). Again, it is local music and I think they need to be promoted and have their moment as opposed to the past when we brought out of town bands in.”
Sheri Marceau applauds the return to a format which she compares to the early days of the former Heritage Festival.
“I appreciate the fact that we’re getting back to the local talent. My dad Tony Marceau used to play in the band "Station A" back at Lee Park in the old Heritage Festival days when it first started out. I just loved coming down as a kid running around like the kids are doing here tonight, just being free and having fun,” said Marceau.
“I really appreciate the festival being outside. I was at the concerts at the Gardens last year and as much as it is a good place for a concert, a festival has to be outside. I would say that even if it was raining out. Who has never played out in the rain?” she laughed.
Donna Brightman brought her daughter and her daughter’s friend along, prepared with a lawn chair and some blankets to comfortably sit and listen to the free concert.
“I think this is a brilliant idea. You can see what good local talent there is. The festival is trying to get everyone in the community involved. Some bands I’ve never heard of but the ones I’ve listened to have been great,” said Brightman.
She says keeping events like the concerts free open the weekend up to everybody.
“It means everyone, no matter if you couldn’t afford an expensive ticket, can still enjoy things because they don’t need a ticket. You can just sit out and enjoy a nice evening. “
From a performer’s perspective, Eric Luckett lead guitarist for the Terrorbirds, found performing on the outdoor stage in front of the local crowd, a bit of a rush.
“That’s what we live for. That’s what we play for, the energy, the power. It is a nice intimate crowd here. It’s a good time. This is perfect for this type of event,” said Luckett.
“Being in front of a hometown audience is the best. When you get big and travel, you always want to come to your hometown and play.”
Martin Simard made a point of bringing his young son to the waterfront to experience music at an outdoor venue.
“The music tonight is great, and there’s lots of stuff on Saturday on Main Street. I’m so excited about all of it. My four-year-old is just loving it, dancing away. Free events all weekend. Let’s go North Bay.”