Cavendish Beach Music Festival over for another year

Mitch MacDonald comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 8, 2013

Country star Kenny Chesney performs in front of a massive crowd at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival Saturday night.

CAVENDISH - From the opening notes of their hit song Goodbye Earl to the encore, the Dixie Chicks had an engaged audience singing and clapping along to provide a fitting end to the fifth annual Cavendish Beach Music Festival here Sunday night.

The group's performance to close out the festival brought an end to three days of sizzling temperatures, loud music and an over-abundance of cowboy hats in the site's makeshift community.

The multiple Grammy award winning group's performance was another testament to the reputation of the festival, which also included headliners Dwight Yoakam on Friday and Kenny Chesney's record breaking performance Saturday.

It was also one of only three shows the group will be playing this summer.

"Front row for the Dixie Chicks! Best night of my whole life!," said one Twitter user.

While Sunday was the final headline performance, the crowd  Chesney drew Saturday was possibly the biggest in the festival's five year history and seemed to be rivalled only by the numbers for Taylor Swift's 2010 performance.

Organizers were unable Sunday to confirm attendance numbers from the weekend.

However, the massive crowd Saturday, estimated in excess of 35,000, made it nearly impossible to maneuver around the festival site during Chesney's performance.

Chesney himself seemed genuine when he said the Cavendish crowd was one of his best audiences he's performed for.

"He had a smile from ear to ear throughout the whole show," said one concert-goer who had previously seen Chesney perform. "He seemed to be really into the audience."

During the song Pirate Flag, which features lyrics about an "island girl," Chesney noted it was his "first time on this Island."

"If this is the way it is, it won't be the last time," he said to a roaring applause.

The country singer made one audience member's night by bringing her onstage to sing "You and Tequila" and also signed some t-shirts from the stage after his encore.

As of early Sunday evening, an RCMP spokesperson said the weekend had been going smoothly from their standpoint.

The biggest challenge facing police was moving traffic in and out of the site, especially at the end of each night, said the spokesperson.

With only one road leading to the festival site, RCMP released a warning saying some roads would be closed to through traffic in the immediate hours following the concerts.

The high temperatures of the weekend also prompted RCMP to remind concert-goers to stay safe by keeping hydrated and cool.

Following a cold and damp beginning to summer, as well as rain forcing a headline act cancellation at the inaugural Big Red Music Festival last week, this past weekend's weather seemed almost too good.

The first two days saw temperatures hovering around the 30 degree mark, including Friday's record breaking heat.

The heat cooled off slightly Sunday, although the site was lucky enough to miss some heavy rainfall that struck other areas of the province.

RCMP said they could not comment on the size of the crowd, and added that any problems encountered were a "reality of the success" of the festival.

It seemed most fans had given their stamp of approval for the weekend, with concert-goers abuzz on Facebook and Twitter during the three days.

Businesses in the area were also bustling while campsites had no vacancies.

Many of the main stage acts praised the audience's engagement and the festival itself.

Canadian country legend Michelle Wright gave her props to the festival and said "coming back to the Island is always awesome."

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee said she hadn't heard of the festival before she was asked to be a part of this year's lineup.

When Wright asked for some more information from organizers, it didn't take long for them to convince her.

"They told me about it and I said 'heck yeah sign me up'," Wright said during an interview with The Guardian. "From what I can tell it certainly seems like it's top notch, the great big stage and the nice sound…. It's nice when they have big screen TVs for the audience, sometimes it can feel so distant if you don't have that."

Apart from the three headliners, the festival saw nearly 40 different performers and bands entertain over the three days on as many different stages.