Community comes together in support of Roots North Music Festival Revisited

By Ross McIntyre, Special to The Packet & Times

Getty Images

Getty Images

Orillia has an unprecedented live music scene during the warmer months of the year. With the growth in live music venue attractions as well as a variety of music festivals scattered throughout the downtown and the shores of Lake Couchiching, fans of live music are not left wanting.

We become accustomed to this throughout the spring and summer and it leaves us wanting more. With the recent purchase and overhaul of the Geneva Event Centre in downtown Orillia, all signs are pointing to the fact the vibrancy of our live music in the summer will continue throughout the year.

Donald Porter, owner of the revamped venue, describes his vision for the space, saying, “We want to put youth on stage and bring a bit of life into the downtown.”

As excellent as it is this space will be used again, it is even more so because Porter is ensuring space for community events and fundraisers. “It is important to be part of the community and this is a way we can give back.”

On Oct. 21, the venue plays host to the Roots North Music Festival Revisited, a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre. The Roots North Festival, new in its own right, takes place throughout downtown venues each spring, and organizers are bringing some noteworthy acts to the Geneva for this concert.

The show will be a perfect snapshot of the musical variety Roots North has become known for, featuring bluegrass from The Griddle Pickers, the incomparable music of Outdoor featuring Lizzie Powell and familiar singer-songwriter Doug Paisley. With so many individuals and organizations in support of this fundraising concert, the foundation is set for a memorable night of live music.

Kevin Gangloff, director of the Orillia Youth Centre, spoke about the wave of support behind this event.

“Donald Porter has offered his support to us as a youth centre over the years and all it took was a quick message to ask if we could use his space,” he said.

“Roots North Music Festival has provided several opportunities to us as a youth centre over the first two years of festivals,” Gangloff added. “When I connected with the organizers, it was a natural fit to work together to bring their high-quality programming to support this venture.”

The broader community support has also been impressive. “We have had well over 30 sponsors eagerly come on board to ensure this event had zero expenses. It has been utterly amazing to see the community come behind this event,” said Gangloff.

The event also had a number of key people working behind the scenes, notably Steve Orr from Dapper Depot, who is known for his community focus. “Steve was the driving force behind the planning committee, sought out sponsors, and made sure this event was going to happen. He has our utmost gratitude for seeking out the youth centre and believing in what we do as an organization,” said Gangloff.

As a result of all the dedicated supporters of this event, 100% of ticket sales will be going to the Orillia Youth Centre.

What the youth centre does as an organization is the whole reason behind this event. While it receives partial funding from the city, all programming at the centre is covered through grants, fundraising and donations. Gangloff identified another important aspect of the community connection, saying it is an “opportunity to connect youth and engage youth back into the wide variety of amazing programs, events and opportunities that we have in Orillia.”

“If a young person feels connected and engaged in their community, they will take ownership and pride in the place they call home.”

The event will be family friendly and the venue is licensed as well. Tickets are $20, $15 for students, and can be purchased at the door or in advance at Alley Cats, Dapper Depot, the Orillia Youth Centre or at

Ross McIntyre is a director at Camp Couchiching and the Couchiching Community Initiative. He is passionate about outdoor education and community building. This column profiles community organizations dedicated to Orillia and opportunities for local youth engagement. If you have a column idea, email

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