Hoards of campers, glampers, and RV-ers have descended upon the Sturgeon River for River & Sky this weekend.
The 11th annual edition of the festival is back at Fishers' Paradise (which we profiled earlier this week) in Field, Ont., somewhere between Sudbury and North Bay.
From year one—when it was held at the River Valley Bluegrass Festival grounds—and this year, the music and camping festival has grown from 200-some attendees to 1,200 expected this weekend.
Most of them stay the night, and some up to four nights.
The best camping spots disappear fast, and by Thursday night it was slim pickings finding somewhere to pitch a tent between the trees.
Not everyone brings a tent though: there are semi-permanent prospectors tents made by Sewn Home in Timmins that are available for rental throughout the year; some people drive their RVs, trailers, or car-mounted campers; and a lucky few regulars stay in spots they've built themselves at Fishers'.
Between all the different structures, it feels like a small town has suddenly sprung up on the festival grounds, with distinct neighbourhoods and everything.
There are two family suburbs with kids running the show and earlier bedtimes; a long stretch of trailers with enviable kitchen and bathroom set-ups; group sites that fill up fast along the main road; and more remote, spacious plots farther from the main events. According to those who choose those far spots, the walk is worth the peace and quiet.
Some campers hunker down at their sites and make it home—building fires, decorating, and even hanging laundry lines—while others see their tent as a place to sleep, and not much more.
That said River & Sky is famous for its late night dance parties, so sleep can be hard to come by.
Supporting this small town in the woods, there are a range of food vendors this year, from Pow Wow Kitchen all the way from Toronto, to the Sudbury-based Red House Kitchen, who're feeding the volunteers.
There are also portable toilets and freshly painted outhouses scattered throughout the grounds. Fastidiously labelled and organized garbage and recycling bins throughout ensure as environmentally-friendly a festival as possible.
If this all sounds appealing: as of Friday, there were tickets left for Saturday online, so it's not too late to drive the hour and a half out to Fishers' Paradise for what's looking like a balmy weekend. There are usually a few tickets left at the gate, too.
Just be prepared: the campsite market is as hot as the weather, so finding a spot in the bustling centre might come at a cost (primarily limited lawn space, loud traffic, and significant light and sound pollution).
For more information about River & Sky visit www.riverandsky.ca.