Expect to see plenty of cowboy hats, faded blue jeans and line dancing as The ROC hosts its first-ever live country music festival on Saturday, July 27th.

Georgina CountryFest is packed with activities, including a vintage car show, baby contest, slow-pitch tournament and family-fun zone with bouncy castles, but the main draw is more than 10 hours of live country music, says Forrest Jones, 46, the event’s organizer, who brought BarbecueFest to The ROC for the past two summers.    

Mr. Jones got the idea for CountryFest after “Fresh Horses,” a Garth Brooks’ tribute band, was a big hit at the first BarbecueFest. “The tribute guy did a phenomenal job. He looked and sounded exactly like Garth Brooks. And people just had a great time,” he says. “It was really a successful event, so I wanted to go back to the country theme.” 

Mr. Jones is hoping he can find the same success with a line-up of nine different local acts.  “The diversity is excellent,” he says. “All the acts offer something unique and it will be a great day for everyone.”

Sutton’s own Michael Chianelli, 19, who Mr. Jones describes as a “young Randy Travis,” is excited to perform in front of a hometown crowd.  

“I really feel great about it. I think it’s going to be a huge hit,” says Mr. Chianelli, who works as diesel mechanic at Prosser’s Garage when he’s not performing. “People around here seem to really like country music. And to have that much going all day, where people can come and go and see different people. It’s going to be a good time.”

Mr. Chianelli was a regular at The Shed Smokehouse in Sutton, before it became a Wild Wing.  He grew up singing in the choir at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Keswick, and developed a love of country music from listening to Merle Haggard, his musical idol. But he says he’s not seeking stardom, he’s “just doing it for the fun of it.”

“I’ve been down to Nashville, and I’ve played down there. But I really like having the small community feeling. Where people know your name and know your songs. I think it really doesn’t get much better than that,” he says.

Mr. Chianelli, who takes the stage at 2.30 p.m., plans to feature some of his own songs, but will sing mostly covers — including the hit “Can’t get more right” by Cody Johnson – because “the crowd really seems to get into them.”

Event tickets are just $5 at the gate. 

All proceeds will benefit three local charities: Georgina Feral Cat Committee, Peaceful Hearts and the Georgina Military Museum.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here