Rock the River sees sold-out crowd for sixth year straight

Organizers say list Saskatchewan rock staples keeps crowds coming year after year.

Acts like Loverboy, Quiet Riot and Blue Oyster Cult all set to rock Bessborough Gardens

Scott Ford, show manager with Rock The River, looks ready to rock'n'roll in front of the crowds at the Bessborough Garden on Aug. 17, 2019. This is the sixth year the classic rock festival has sold out. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

Residents in Saskatoon are ready to rock. 

Some of the biggest names in Rock'n'Roll will be taking to the stage this weekend for the 2019 Rock the River Festival at the Delta Bessborough Gardens. The line-up includes bands like Quiet Riot, Blue Oyster Cult and Streetheart alongside eight other classic rock bands who are sure to melt some faces at the solid-out event. 

Scott Ford is the show manager with Rock the River.

Hosted by SaskTel Centre, Ford said these bands have drawn big crowds to events like the Memorial Cup and the Tim Hortons Brier and they wanted to provide Saskatoon residents a place to party during the summer months. 

"Bands like Dr. Hook and Trooper were always very, very popular and always did really well. People would come to the events and have a great time," he said. "So we thought there was room to build an event, or a festival, that would have all of those baby-boomer type acts that had great catalogues." 

Ford said the event has grown substantially since it was launched in 2014, noting it sold out in the first year and has become a tradition for many in Saskatoon since its inception.

"Since then, we've just kept it going and switched-up the line up to try and make it new and fresh every year with some new bands," he said. "Basically, for all six years, including this year, we've basically sold out all three days of the festival." 

The Bessborough Gardens were packed with people who were waiting to rock at the 2019 Rock The River music festival on Aug. 17, 2019. Hosted by SaskTel Centre, organizers say it's the timeless music of rock acts like Trooper and Lover Boy that keep crowds coming back year after year. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

Ford said he thinks it's the music that keep people coming back year after year, noting bands like Trooper, Chilliwack and Saskatchewan's own Colin James — who are all set to perform this year — resonate strongly with audiences in the province, as they were staple touring acts for many of Saskatchewan's communities. 

"In the olden days, they would work every single town," said Ford, noting they'd make stops in Saskatoon and Regina, but also ensure fans in communities like Kindersley and Rosetown got to take in the show.

"They developed a fan base by being artists that like to work on the road, always had affordable tickets and were fun," he said. "Over the years, people just remember those good times they had with those artists and it seems to resonate into something that is still popular today." 

Blue Oyster Cult is headlining in the festival stage on Saturday night and on Sunday, Saskatchewan crooner Colin James will close out the festival.

With files from Saskatchewan Weekend


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