'River and Sky' festival returns to the delight of fans

It was a small, but passionate crowd at this year's 'River and Sky' camping and music festival in Field, Ont., which returned for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers worked hard to hold something they thought would be permissible and sought the input of Public Health Sudbury and Districts.

"It's turning out really well, it's been great. I mean, obviously, there was some nervousness," laughed the festival's executive director Abigail Cassio. "But everything's been really great and now, we have a full day of programming."

Anyone who planned to attend had to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination as well as submit to a rapid COVID-19 test.

No one tested positive at the gate and everyone was allowed in over the period of two days.

There were also smaller crowds and colour coded bracelets to assist in contract tracing, should the need arise.

"No positive tests at all," Cassio said. "Like we were worried about having people wait 15 minutes, but there were so many people on top of it that it's become as easy as can be."

Festival organizers determined the new rules in conjunction with the property owner. They wanted to make sure everyone got home safely and said none of the changes are permanent, they will re-evaluate next year.

The attendees that spoke to CTV News said they liked the added layer of precautions, adding there was a general sense of ease in the air.

"I'm really happy they made people get one vaccine and then everyone did their COVID swab. It was easy, like non-invasive," Emily Granville said.

"You know my partner and I both got vaccinated when we had the opportunity to and like we've been pretty cool with all the precautions. We understand," Amber Gaudrault said.

North Bay restauranteur Melissa Wyness was one of the few vendors who made it out this year. It's her fifth 'River and Sky' festival and said it's definitely one of her favourites.

"It's the greatest festival I've been to. I love it. It's up north, there are so many great talented people up here," Wyness said.

Performers liked the ability to be back in front of the audience as well.

Helena Deland made the trip to Field, Ont., from Montreal.

"It's so nice to be around people that I think everyone is down to switch sceneries too, which we haven't been able to do much," Deland said.

"We didn't play at all throughout the year and then all of the sudden, we have a couple of festivals, shows and stuff. So yeah, we're super happy to play," said Guillaume Chiasson and Daphne Brissette of the Montreal rock group 'Bon Enfant.'

'River and Sky' is one of the first music festivals out of the gate in this region for the season. Cassio said if the others have any questions, she's more than happy to lend them input.

She and her team plan on getting some rest later into the summer before they start planning for next year.