See You at Sappy
Swamp magic is a special intoxicant available only at SappyFest. It’s the type of magic produced when you take one of the best curated festivals in Canada, put it in one of New Brunswick’s most picturesque towns, and hold it every year on one of the best weekends of the summer.
SappyFest is my favorite music festival, and it starts today. It takes over Sackville, with a large street-consuming main stage, and shows that take place in park bandstands, arc-ceilinged churches, movie theatres, pool halls, empty diners, decrepit sheds, bars of all stripes, art galleries and now bowling alleys. Basically, if there’s enough space for a small pool of hipsters to awkwardly swing in it, SappyFest will fill it with music.
Sackville is a small town located right next to the kissing isthmus that bridges Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It’s quietly picturesque, one of the maritimes’ many beautiful sleeping secrets.
At least once a year (twice if you count Stereophonic) Sackville is descended on by music nerds and other pleasure-seekers for a sort of adult summer camp. It’s always sincerely intimate, and agreeably raucous. It’s perfect and romantic, and of course I feel that way since it’s where my relationship began six years ago.
The festival is a perfect storm. From the aforementioned impeccable lineup – this year features Angel Olsen, Mozart’s Sister and Speedy Ortiz – to the cheap accommodations. Each summer we crash a lawn and chomp on hangover breakfast at Mel’s, drink Picaroon’s draft like it’s water, and venture into Waterfowl Park into the deepest hours of the night.
My crew and I are Sappy veterans, and at this point we refuse to miss it. This is our sixth year in a row, and we put aside any and all obligations to drive to the infamous Bridge Street Stage (though this year the festival has moved one block up the street to accommodate the town’s construction schedule) and take in what has become our favorite weekend of the year. There must be something in the swamp, because we can’t stop going back.
SappyFest is a treat, and if you aren’t taking advantage of it, come now. Seriously. You can’t arrive too early. Hop a bus, there’s a VIA Rail station downtown. You can catch a flight in to Moncton. Like Brendan Allison once told me, the best part about Moncton is it’s only 30 minutes from Sackville.
Secret East had Sackville hero/best friend Scott Brown cover SappyFest last year. This year I get to hang out with him and recap the festival and I’m so excited I can already smell the swamp magic in the air. See you there.