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Big Music Fest kicks off Saturday

By Taylor Broderick, Jordan Merkley, Dylan O’Hagan

Organizers are hoping Belleville will be flooded with tourists this Saturday as Big Music Fest returns with an all rock lineup to East Zwick’s Park.

Belleville is excited to welcome high-profile performers Burton Cummings and Band, Hedley, Counting Crows, the Wallflowers, and Bleeker Ridge. This year’s lineup is expected to bring in more age groups than last year, said David Joyce, the site manager.

This annual event is estimated to draw a crowd of approximately 10,000 to 16,000, at least half is expected to come from outside the Quinte Region, said Bay of Quinte Tourism President Ryan Williams.

Not only does Big Music Fest have great entertainment value, it also brings an economic boost to Belleville. There is some great spinoff from this event for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses, said Joyce.

This is the fifth year Big Music Fest is coming to Belleville. The event has been very successful in the past, and brings people back to Belleville year after year. Big Music Fest also “puts Belleville on the map,” said Joyce. This event is even used by the Bay of Quinte Tourist Council to promote other local attractions

This event kicks off the summer tourist season for the year. “It’s worth at least half a million dollars which comes from spending time overnight and in local restaurants,” said Williams.

This is one of the biggest attractions Belleville has to offer which brings thousands into the area.  The Big Music Fest gives “such a great opportunity to showcase Belleville,” and hopefully people will continue to come back just because they love the town and are interested in doing more here, said Joyce.

Mark Higgins, the producer of Big Music Fest who has worked closely with the city of Belleville for many years said, “I just have a passion and feel for the people of Belleville,” and it’s a safe place to host an event like this.

Big Music Fest is only featured in Belleville this year and it “speaks volumes that they picked [Belleville] over other locations. We love to have it here and we will continue to love to have it here” said Williams.

Gates open at 1p.m. Bleeker Ridge is kicking off the show at 2 p.m. Performances will go until approximately 11:30 p.m. with Burton Cummings rounding out the night.