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Marathon music fest Livestock returns

John Law

By John Law, Niagara Falls Review

Co-organizers Laurel Minnis and Rafik Guirguis bring the third annual Livestock music fest to downtown Niagara Falls July 22. PHOTO: John Law / Niagara Falls Review

Co-organizers Laurel Minnis and Rafik Guirguis bring the third annual Livestock music fest to downtown Niagara Falls July 22. PHOTO: John Law / Niagara Falls Review

For Rafik Guirguis, a festival he started farming two years ago in downtown Niagara Falls is yielding results.

Livestock was a day-long music bash he brought to Taps Brewery, featuring 18 bands on two stages. Last year, he more than doubled the number of bands and stages.

This year, he knew he needed help.

Enter Laurel Minnes of local band Majora, who joins Guirguis as co-organizer of the July 22 show in addition to performing in it.

“Part of the stipulation for getting more grants or more funding is to make sure the festival grows, make sure it has more components,” says Guirguis, a Niagara Falls event planner and promoter. “The only way to take that on was to alleviate a good chunk of the responsibility to somebody that I trust.”

The festival received $5,000 through the city’s Cultural Development Fund last year, and received double that this year — a sign its impact hasn’t gone unnoticed, says Guirguis.

The majority of the budget will once again go to the 40 performers, which this year includes James Blonde, Theatre Crisp, Stereo Sunrise and returning favorites Road Waves.

Additions this year include eight hours of jazz at The Moose & Pepper (sponsored by the TD Niagara Jazz Festival), a health and wellness program hosted by Christa Barrette, an expanded Artisan Village, and a craft beer market.

Also, for the first time, a section of Queen Street from Victoria Avenue will be closed to traffic.

Patience has been key for the festival. Instead of instantly trying to fill the void left by SCENE two years ago, Livestock is playing the long game.

“The fact it hasn’t exploded beyond our capabilities in the first two years is really helpful,” says Minnes. “It has grown at a healthy rate and a manageable rate, to where we can make decisions properly and not impulsively.”

Tempting as it is to spend much of the budget on a big headliner, Guirguis prefers doling it out to Niagara bands. The result is now the region’s biggest one-day celebration of Niagara music.

“We have to be true to ourselves,” says Guirguis. “There is an overflow of festivals happening right now — it’s very saturated — and if you’re going to step into the water with the big boys, you’ve got to play hard.

“It takes a lot of resources, a lot of staffing. The only way to do that is build a solid foundation through natural growth.”

jlaw@postmedia.com

WHAT/WHERE/WHEN

WHAT: Livestock 2017

WHERE: Taps Brewery, downtown Niagara Falls

WHEN: July 22, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

ADMISSION: Free www.livestockniagara.com

 

 



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