'Berrio on the Sandbanks' to return to Wanapitei Lake next weekend

Work is already underway on what is expected to be a big party next weekend on Wanapitei Lake.

After a hiatus last summer, due to the pandemic, 'Berrio on the Sandbanks' is back and is hoping to return live music to the waters.

Headliner Larry Berrio said he's been waiting two years for this tradition to return.

"It's been over a year and half of not doing a show after 20 years of doing concerts, it's kind of surreal," Berrio said.

He said putting on the show was a last-minute ordeal as they waited to see what COVID-19 restrictions the region would be under by July.

"Now we're finally in Stage 3 in the province of Ontario, which is such a relief," Berrio said. "We took a chance on organizing this event for July 24, which is this coming weekend, with the chances that we were going to cancel it if we didn't move into Stage 3. But I thought it's easier to have to plan everything and have to cancel than have to plan everything at the last minute."

And the gamble paid off. Boaters are being invited to launch Saturday morning, to head out to the sandbanks' side of the lake to enjoy the show.

It's music to the ears of his opening act, Jopo, who hasn't been in front of a live audience for some time either.

"So to be able to perform again for people -- and a lot of people at that -- hopefully if the weather's good," she said. "I'm really looking forward to it. I'm not nervous at all. I'm just really excited."

This year will mark the fifth 'Berrio on the Sandbanks' concert.

First responders are planning to be out there on the water to ensure everyone stays safe while enjoying the live music.

"You know they're going to be following all the proper precautions. Guitar Clinic is going to be doing the sound, Larry and his team have done a great job putting everything together so I feel safe going into this for sure," Jopo said.

"There's something special about the sandbanks because it's northern Ontario, it's very unique. It's only boat access, you can't get there by car, it's something totally different. It really shows what we have in northern Ontario to offer," Berrio said.

Tickets are on sale for the VIP party, which is slated to be held at Rocky's on Wahnapitae First Nation after the concert.