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River & Sky: A 'family reunion,' but with 1,000 people there

Ninth annual edition of music and camping festival takes place July 20-23
A scene from the 2016 edition of the River & Sky Music/Camping Festival. This year's River & Sky takes place July 20-23. (File)

If you've never attended the River & Sky Music/Camping Festival, director Peter Zwarich likens it to a family reunion atmosphere, but with about 1,000 people on site.

“It's not a typical festival experience,” he said. “People are camping out. It's more intimate. It feels like a family reunion. If they're into that, I would highly encourage them to attend.”

The ninth annual edition of River & Sky, featuring close to 40 emerging indie performers and bands, takes place July 20-23 on the Sturgeon River, between Sudbury and North Bay. 

The festival grounds are on a privately-owned piece of property called Fishers' Paradise in the community of Field.

“It's almost like a collective meditative weekend, even though it's a music festival,” said Zwarich, who helped to found the festival in 2009.

“It's a very grounding event. Nobody's in a big hurry to do anything. Nobody's getting stressed out. It's something I try to convey to everybody so people can have an enjoyable, stress-free weekend.”

This year's headliners are East Coast Juno winners Wintersleep, two-time Polaris prize nominee Timber Timbre, punk rockers PUP and rock quartet Weaves.

“I think we're touching upon a quality of entertainment that's top notch for Canada,” Zwarich said, adding it's thanks to government and other funders that he's able to book great performers.

Then there's the large slate of musicians with Northern Ontario ties and from across the country. 

“We do a small part in encouraging artists that somehow feel comfortable in the River & Sky environment to develop their craft,” Zwarich said.

The festival isn't just about music — there's also a large variety of workshops being offered during River & Sky. A few interesting ones: wand-making, bicycle maintenance, stand-up paddling, puppetry and knot-tying.

River & Sky relies on the energy and talents of its volunteers to make the festival happen. 

Organizers recently issued a call-out asking for more volunteers — you can earn a free pass that way. If you're interested, email

For tickets, the full festival lineup and more information, visit the festival's website.

River & Sky Headliners

Thursday, July 20 

Friday, July 21
Timber Timbre

Saturday, July 22

Sunday, July 23