The Barrie Waterfront Festival marks 15 years with a move to a new location. The festival is a highlight every spring as it kicks off the summer festival season in Barrie. This year features lots of live entertainment and fun for every age.

“We’ve moved over to Centennial Park this year, expanding the footprint and we have a lot of great entertainment from around Simcoe area and from Greater Toronto area,” said Lido Chilelli. “We’re having a meet-and-greet with Peppa Pig on Sunday and an expanded children’s fun midway.”

Chilelli founded the Barrie event with Pat Carpignano and both continue to organize it today. They personally select the bands and look for a mix of fresh talent that will appeal to the majority of people attending.

“We’re proud of the fact that we kick off the festival season in Barrie,” said Chilelli, who is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. “We proud of the fact that we have everything free, one of the few free festivals in southern Ontario.”

He would know because he and Carpignano have created and produced a number of festivals and events in the province including Toronto’s Beaches International Jazz Festival. But Barrie is special to Chilelli, in part for the city’s  “beautiful waterfront” and the close-knit community that lives here.

When they started, The Barrie Waterfront festival, it filled a void of no programming during the month of May. Since then, it has grown to attract thousands of visitors to Barrie from Toronto and Richmond Hill, and many who visit the festival also return the city throughout the year for other weekend getaways.

In addition to non-stop live bands performing in a variety of genres, there are several tribute acts such as Ozone Baby’s tribute to Led Zeppelin, Symply Skynyrd’s tribute to Lynryd Skynyrd, Blink 282’s tribute to Blink 182, and The Chicago Project, a tribute to Chicago.

The festival also features a variety of arts and crafts vendors and food trucks that include multi-cultural flavours of Spanish cuisine and Mexican as well as smoked meat items and grilled cheese. The Cara Lea Band kicks off the live entertainment Friday night, May 24, at 6:30 p.m. with a mix of top -40 cover tunes and original songs. They are known as THE party band for all occasions.

Saturday begins with the Toronto All Star Big Band at 12 noon. Talented young musicians bring the big band era of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s to life.  Live bands play until 10 p.m.

Sunday entertainment begins with Peppa Pig at 12 noon and wraps up for another year with the Chicago Project performing at 4 p.m.

The Barrie Waterfront festival runs from May 24-26. Admission is free. Visit for more details.


photo: Join the fun. The Barrie Waterfront Festival celebrates 15 years May 24-26.


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