Somethin’ about the County sun, she kisses my skin, she shines down on us. These wild flowers, reach out across the wind and her long shadows dance on white sands. We fall through the long grass, holding hands, flames of sunlight in her gold hair, barndust sparks fly through her rays. We laugh and try the wine again. We carve out our stories in the fields of grain. She burns low and hot across the beach sand. “We come alive under the sun,” she says, “Come in and I’ll show you everything.” Her waves crest, flowing fire in your hands. And we drink it, we drink it all in.
— Lonelle Selbo, for The LIFE AU LAIT Project Band with Annelise & County Artists
Picture this: it’s another gorgeous day in the County. That big, beautiful country sun is exploding all over those rolling golden fields, and you and 150 other vehicles are pulling in to the drive-in to watch the sun go down and the lights go up on a two day micro-music festival with a killer lineup of Canadian artists.
Let’s talk about the magic hour.
Absolutely no one can dispute that there’s some kind of magic here in Prince Edward County. It’s always there, even when we’re acting like it’s life-as-usual, and it’s been here since some climactic-geological miracle of shifting plates and falling lakes made some cosmic pact to form our little island. And it will be here until mother nature reclaims it and maybe even then.
In our very real, very here and now experience though, there is one special time in every County day when magic is at its peak. It’s that special hour before sunset, when everything is bathed in a golden light—from the breezy wheat fields that dance in glimmering waves, to sunbeams glinting through the leaves of swaying trees, that illuminated path across the water to the infinite horizon, to that soft golden glow on the faces of our friends. Our collective County heart soars in these moments and the magic is real.
A County Music Festival. At a Drive-In.
The Mustang Drive-In was established in 1950, but current owners Dawn Laing and Drew Downs took over in April 2020 with a goal to renovate, keep the reel running, and create a cool destination experience for locals and visitors. One of the few C-19-friendly businesses, the couple saw their position as a way to help other businesses. “Luckily for us, COVID can’t dampen our spirits. We feel there’s a real opportunity to help use our Theatre as a space to support other community sectors and entrepreneurs during this tricky time,” Dawn says.
Enter Tai Notar and Jenn Ivanovs, two women with 20 years of event experience between them and the force behind the County’s first officially announced live music event since Covid-19. Golden Hour, a two day micro-music festival at The Mustang Drive-In, was an imaginative way to get artists playing live in front of fans again, by distancing concert-goers in the contained luxury of their own private vehicles. “PEC has been my second home for the past five years,” says Tai. “I’ve always wanted to get into the event scene out here, but have had difficulties in the past with my annual clients. I’m a big fan of the PEC community because we are strong-willed and stand together and—regardless of what is going on in the world—we show up for each other when it counts the most.”
The County felt like the right place to host a socially distant festival. “PEC is beautiful and one of the most welcoming communities we’ve ever been a part of,” Jenn continues. “I’ve always been a supporter of communities and small businesses, so when Tai brought this idea to me to do something unique, I was on board.”
The Sun, The Stars & All The Deets.
OK, here’s what you’re waiting for. While all the pretty details are available in the FAQs of the website, here’s our vague hot sheet to get you prepped—
Time, Dates, Place? It’s a 2-day micro-festival at The Mustang Drive-In in gorgeous Prince Edward County, running Sept 5th and 6th. As you may have guessed, the events begin at “the golden hour” at the onset of the sunset—similar to drive-in times! You arrive based on your ticket’s zone, so somewhere between 6 and 7:30PM, shows start at 8PM.
Who’s Playing? Gahhh the all-Canadian lineup is so good! On Sept 5th, you’ll see Whitehorse and The Sadies, with our all time fave local darling Annelise Noronha opening. On the 6th, headliners are indie greats Stars supported by Dizzy and the local opener will be a contest winning artist as presented by The Regent Theatre! (Stay tuned for more on this!)
How Much Are Tickets? Tickets range from $160 per car to $250 per vehicle for VIP (which includes entry to a pre-festival party at a secret location on Sept 4th…ooooh!) It sounds a little steep off the bat, but if you divide it by four peeps in the car (you can have up to five, actually), it’s not bad, so we recommend that you carpool with your bubble on this one!
When Can I Buy Tickets? Official sale begins on July 31st, but we thought it would be cool to stack the show with our local friends, family, and neighbours, sooo we’ve got something cool for our County peeps: an exclusive to us pre-sale code that will be valid from 10am on Tuesday, July 28th until the general tickets go on sale:
Can I Bring My Shorties + Four-Legged Music Lovers? These are the real perks of an unconventional format! Kids are totally welcome and, as Tai and Jenn confirmed, “The Mustang Drive-In Theatre is dog friendly and therefore so is Golden Hour. Just like the humans on site, we expect if you do bring your furry friend with you for them to respect the rules designed for them, ie. leashed at all times, safety first, and owners must pick up after their pets.”
Will There Be Food? Booze? Bathrooms? It sounds like there will be some awesome local food vendors at the show (watch for updates on the GH site and socials) and, while it’s a dry event, there will be lots of non-alc options for fuel. Just like the drive-in and other festivals, no outside food or drink is permitted. Not only are there washrooms at The Mustang, but they’ve recently installed foot pedals to lower contact. Oh, and the bathrooms will be sanitized every half hour to reduce risk.
Where Are The Real FAQs? Check the site’s FAQs here for all the goods. We actually recommend checking it close to the festival dates as provincial guidelines are always evolving and this section will be updated accordingly.
Q+A with Tai & Jenn
Q. What’s going on in the world of live music right now?
There are a lot of drive-in models out there, however, Golden Hour aims to bring a new approach. The drive-in concerts we’ve heard of are truly just that, concerts! We are a scaled down festival—with multiple acts on multiple days. Golden Hour came to me in a time of darkness, when the live events industry was shut down entirely. We were all at a loss, this is our bread and butter, this is how we survive. I thought to myself, what can I do to bring back a sliver of normalcy to the industry? How can I provide jobs for my friends and colleagues who have lost all of their income without a foreseeable return date? Golden Hour is a beam of light that not only gave me a new purpose but is providing a stage for artists, jobs for the industry and was designed and developed with the purpose of aiding economic growth within our community. We want to bring back the feeling of community that you get at a festival. Everyone is a partner from our staff to our artists, we’re all coming together to create a memorable experience this summer—even if it’s from 6’ apart.
Q. What’s new and different in the time of C-19?
As Event Producers, we’re navigating health and safety regulations we have never had to work around previously. We are facing social distancing, personal protective equipment, limited contact interactions and more and also going through the regular challenges of producing an event. The drive-in model offers a unique opportunity to see a show in a new way. With social distancing in effect we’re operating at half of the capacity of the venue which in itself makes it a unique experience. Artists will perform in an intimate setting with true die hard fans eager to listen and experience live music once again.
Although the drive in models will not feel like your typical festival experience, it’s a compromise we can get onboard with for now and they do offer unique perks like being able to bring your dog!
Q. What’s next for GH? Is it a one off? Is it a model for live music in the new world?
Golden Hour is taking it one step at a time… nothing ventured nothing gained! Although we are working towards producing this event with future years in mind, we’re still trying to figure out whether or not this model will work in future years. We would love to see it come back for year two and the festival and live concert landscape is ever evolving right now. So ask us again in 2021.
Q. What should everyone know about this festival?
Safety is at the forefront of our minds for everyone on site—attendees, staff and performers. We know things like social distancing may add some additional wait time but we’re doing the best we can to make sure everyone has a great time. We’re working with lots of great local partners so there may be some other events around that weekend in the works so stay tuned to our socials for announcements!