Recent evidence is proving that Timmins was indeed a city starving for more live music in years past.
While the city is still in the afterglow from the eight-day Stars and Thunder festival, another major event is fast approaching, and ticket sales are booming.
The second edition of 'Rock on the River', hosted by the Timmins Festivals and Events Committee (TFEC), has now sold out of VIP tickets for the two-day concert. which takes place on Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 29 at Participark, on the banks of the Mattagami River.
"Online has been crazy , VIP sold out . I am seeing about three times the sales online from this time last year," said John Olaveson, Chair of TFEC.
This year's lineup features Juno Award winning rapper Classified and emerging star Coleman Hell on Friday night, and Canadian rock mainstays Big Wreck and Finger Eleven on Saturday, among others.
It is difficult to gauge exactly how the recent festival has impacted sales numbers for TFEC, but Olaveson said the response is very encouraging
"I would say 'Stars and Thunder' had some impact , with the community and how they are enjoying concert. People like the VIP. Our VIP is much more intimate, only fits approximately 400 to 450 people. Our venue at Participark will be much more engaging for the artists because of the small space. I encourage people to get their General Admission, which is still a great ticket because of the venue," he said.
Of note, chairs will not be granted access to the festival grounds, like at Stars and Thunder.
"No chairs, no back packs. There will be chairs in both tents that the city is providing. It's hard to have chairs because they take up so much space, and the Participark has a weird layout," said Olaveson.
He said he understands that there will be some folks who will be upset with the fact the VIP tickets have sold out.
"People have to understand that they have to get their tickets early. You don't know how many people are messaging us for VIP tickets. Tickets have been on sale for what, six weeks? I hate to say it, but you wait, you lose out on the VIP."
Most TFEC members were in attendance at Stars and Thunder, and took note of a few things that they say will be applied to their events, but overall Olaveson said what city staff and volunteers were able to pull of was quite impressive.
"Well the vendors were a concern. Long line ups. But our event only starts at 6 p.m., people won't be eating there all day type thing. We will still have enough vendors . We really liked the accessibilty platform. I would like to incorporate something like that for people. I think people that bought GA (general admission) seemed to be far away, and it seemed that these were the hard core fans, and I think they deserve to be closer. Maybe split the VIP differently so GA has closer access. Overall, we thought that Stars and Thunder ran very well, with little issues," he said.
Rock on the River is shaping up to be bigger than last year, and with the Participark area lacking an abundance of parking spaces, festival organizers are taking action.
"TFEC is planning to use shuttle buses, along with Vets Taxi, to bring everyone home safely from the event. There is parking at the old 'Game On' hockey parking lot, but that is at their own risk. We are encouraging everyone to take the transit to, and from the event and take the shuttle bus home. Shuttles will be going east and west at 12:30 a.m. each night," said Olaveson.
He said excitement is already building up in the city, and even when the inevitable honeymoon phase of a major festival is slowly wearing off. people are responding extremely well to the community committee's efforts.
"I believe TFEC is well on our way to being able to put on big shows like Stars and Thunder. We have double the amount of volunteers as last year, more sponsors are stepping up to the plate and realize the impact we are making on the community. I can't stress enough that TFEC is the people's committee. If they support TFEC only biggger and bigger things are to come. That's why we did kids under 10 get in free (with a small charitable donation) and all ages this year. It was our number one concern from attendees last year," said Olaveson.
In the sophomore year of the event, big adjustments have been made by the committee in the planning phase, as they use the experience from a year ago to make things run that much more smoothly this time around.
"Well this is the thing, I tried to put too much on myself last year, and that's wrong. We have so many great committee members with different skill sets and with a year under our belt, everyone knows their roles and responsibilities better. Things are a lot less stressful, less grey hair, and a lot more enjoyable thanks to the board members. Still hectic though with planning this event, and everyone has 9 to 5 jobs. TFEC is getting really excited about year two. The ticket sales are going much better, which takes a lot of pressure off us. The artists are very excited as well to come play Timmins. They have heard what a great city this is for music," said Olaveson.
Rock on the River 2017 lineup
Friday, July 28 - Classified, Coleman Hell, Tyler Shaw, Midnight Shine
Saturday, July 29 - Finger Eleven, Big Wreck, Adam Gontier, Blackwood Sinners
General admission tickets are still available at Alfie's Cigar Store and Ray Perrier Music in Downtown Timmins, as well as Wicked Stuff in the Timmins Square. Tickets can also be purchased through TFEC's website.