Muskoka Music Festival helps businesses recoup pandemic losses

The first Tall Pines Music and Arts Festival kicked off in Gravenhurst on Saturday.

Canadian musicians from across the country and local vendors gathered near the wharf in Muskoka for a weekend of live music and crafts.

“It’s absolutely a godsend. Music heals, and that’s what we really want to do with this festival,” said Kevin Goodman, organizer and CEO of Front Row Center Music and Entertainment.

After two years of limited gigs and festivals, Goodman says they weren’t sure what this year’s summer would bring.

As restrictions began to ease across the province earlier in the year, he and his team began putting the pieces in place and building the lineup of musicians to kick off the summer music festival season in Muskoka.

“It’s so amazing to be back in live music,” Goodman said. “It’s so amazing to be here in Muskoka. We’re thrilled with the emotion that live music brings.”

The feeling of gratitude is not only felt by the organizers. Local vendors from across the Muskoka region who have settled in Tall Pines told CTV News they have been forced to suspend business due to the pandemic.

“I’m so excited that it’s been a long two years,” said Margo Gracey, owner of Bramblewood Studio.

“It’s just wonderful to feel like we’re doing something normal again,” said Catharine Miller, owner of Muskoka Mercantile.

With the resumption of festivals, they dusted off their cash registers again and resumed their activities.

“They are so important to our economy,” said Janet O’Connell, general manager of Muskoka Tourism. “Reopening does not mean a recovery for tourism businesses; many of our businesses have gone into deep debt.”

Over the two-day event, organizers believe thousands could attend the festival, and they hope to make Tall Pines an annual tradition in Muskoka.