Festival promoter eyes Haliburton
By Angelica Ingram
A familiar producer of music festivals who has previously tried bringing a large-scale event to Minden Hills is now setting his sights on the municipality of Dysart et al.
Wolfgang Siebert and Haliburton’s John Teljeur made a delegation to council at its Oct. 26 meeting outlining the details for The International Festival for Water, an event they would like to bring to the county.
“I’m here with some happy news,” said Teljeur, who was involved with the effort to bring a similar event to the Minden Fairgrounds.
Teljeur told councillors Siebert has made a conditional offer on a West Guilford golf course, where he would like to host multiple music festivals every year.
Dubbed Haliburton Grove, the proposed location for the music event is Lakeside Golf Course on Highway 118. The owner of Lakeside Golf Course told the Echo someone has expressed interest in purchasing the business.
Siebert said he thinks the location would be the ideal spot for a festival venue.
“I’m here to offer Haliburton an opportunity for music festivals,” said Siebert. “For the last 40 years I’ve produced music festivals all over the world.”
Siebert said he has worked with the likes of the United Nations, Mumford and Sons and The Rolling Stones, to name a few.
The music producer said he has been working with Teljeur for a few years to try and get an event in Haliburton County.
A similar festival was pitched to Minden Hills council a few years ago and was rejected by the former council and was being considered by current council.
However at an Oct. 8 meeting of council, community services director Mark Coleman wrote in his report to Minden Hills councillors that the festival would not be going ahead for 2016 as an adjacent property that was supposed to be utilized for the event was no longer available.
Siebert believes the site of the golf course would be the perfect location for a multi-day music festival venue and hopes to bring three festivals there every year.
“Basically we’d like to do three music festivals a year, one is a country one, one is a classic rock festival and one would be what is considered a main summer tour,” said Siebert, adding the latter meant bringing in a well-known mainstream artist such as Shania Twain or Jimmy Buffet.
Siebert said it will take years to get the location ready to host a music festival, but that there would be great economic spin-off.
“Economically music festivals are the biggest producers of money for any town,” he said. “They put money into the hotels, bed and breakfasts, suppliers, gas stations, staff workers.”
Siebert said his festival would employ five to seven people annually and in the summer, 50 to 150 people.
The producer, who works with private investors, is also offering a portion of ticket sales, $5 a ticket from two of the three festivals, to two local charities, as a way to give back to the community.
The proposal includes an area for artisans and vendors to set up on the grounds to sell their items and for motorhome and RV camping, which would accommodate about 90 per cent of concert goers, said Siebert.
“About 10 per cent of people would stay at hotels,” he said. “But that would fill them up.”
There would be a special VIP parking section for guests staying with local accommodators, said Siebert.
“With this event we hardly have to do anything,” said Teljeur. “The event has to do well, this is their business so they have to make money.”
Siebert pointed to other events and festivals held in Toronto and other areas that brought in millions of dollars, with millions in spin-off revenue going to local businesses.
Deputy-reeve Andrea Roberts said the proposed property would have to be re-zoned to allow an event like this to take place, to which Siebert said no, his lawyer informed him the property is already zoned for recreational purposes.
Roberts also raised issues of noise and traffic concerns, pointing out the property is located on a highway and would need approvals from the MTO.
Siebert said the festival stage would be located in the upper part of the golf course, away from the lake. He added festival organizers would hire OPP to control the site 24/7.
“You’re never going to solve noise and traffic problems ... that’s inherent with festivals. That is something you’ll always have,” he said. “The fact is you will hear some music and traffic, the point is do you want to make an economic decision?”
Councillor Susan Norcross, who lives in the area of the proposed location, echoed Roberts concerns with noise.
Reeve Murray Fearrey questioned the environmental impact the festival would have to the area. The producer said there is little impact as everything, from toilets to generators, is portable.
Siebert said the festival would also include an environmental component, with workshops and educational aspects.
Teljeur said the hope was to make the event a long-term thing, with Siebert adding it takes time to grow this type of festival.
Siebert said the festival would also help showcase the area through technological aspects, such as Internet broadcasting.
“We’re experts in Internet broadcasting, we’re experts in festivals and we felt that this was a beautiful park to run music festivals to broadcast on the Internet, which over the years would give the park a better reputation,” said Siebert.
Once the festivals are established, there is the possibility of building a music hall at the location for artists to practise in year round, said Siebert.
According to Teljeur’s website, the country music festival will be held during the first week of July, the classic rock concert during the first week of August and the major summer tour either at the end of July or end of August.
Councillor Walt McKechnie said the festival could bring economic growth for the area and the only issue he was hearing was the possibility of noise.
“How do you not say yes?” said McKechnie.
Fearrey suggested councillors digest the presentation and meet up in a few weeks to make a decision.