They’ve come a long way from a ragtag group of 70 hopeful campers looking for fun and music in the August sun. The Rainbow Trout Music Festival (RTMF) began in 2009, and in the interim, has grown tenfold to welcome over 700 festival-goers each year. The festival is held at a picturesque property owned by George and Florence Beaudry just south of St. Malo, MB - the perfect setting for any outdoor show.
Ben Jones, artistic director for RTMF, insists the festival is the one of the few summer music hotspots enjoyed equally by audiences and fest volunteers.
"(The festival) increases our quality of life by facilitating quality experiences," Jones says. "Which is a fancy way to say we like to throw awesome parties."
Named for the tasty rainbow trout who populate the nearby Rosseau river, the festival, running Aug. 14 - 16, is designed as a showcase for the incredible musical talent brewing within the city of Winnipeg.
As always, the lineup combines a uniquely eclectic mixture of local favorites and budding new talents from a diverse array of genres, such as jazz, folk, hip hop, electro and reggae. This year, performers will include M&M Meats, The Zorgs, ATLAAS, The Catamounts, The Empty Standards, Animal Teeth, The Madtrappers and Micah Visser.
Even though this will be Micah Visser’s first performance at Rainbow Trout, he feels festival performances have a totally different feel than an average club performance.
"When I’m at a festival that I love and I love the performer, I get this feeling that I can’t really describe," Visser says. "It’s like they’re tapping into something deeper. When you get in the zone and you’re playing a good show that people really care about, and you can see you’re connecting with people, you can actually see you’re benefitting them by playing this music, that’s the most rewarding part for me."
One of the few festivals popular enough to demand a Ticket Launch Party, held on June 12 at the Good Will Social Club, RTMF has made its goal to reach beyond what was accomplished in previous years.
"Because we're a not-for-profit, we put all the revenue from the festival right back into it, so we keep on getting better each year," Jones says. "We will forever be a work in progress and that will help keep us fresh year after year."
This August, the campground may look a bit different to fest veterans, as pathway lighting, and an 1,800 square foot tent to protect campers from Mother Nature, have been recently added to fest's toolbox, which already includes an on-site splash-pool. Food and crafts will also be available for sale, with Deer + Almond featured as the main food vendor, and Parlour Coffee providing caffeinated treats. Elements like these are merely small examples of the great strides the festival continually makes to expand to fit their ever-growing audience.
Festival coordinator Jodie Layne, who has been involved with the fest since nearly the beginning, insists the laid-back vibe of the weekend is no accident.
"We are really focused on keeping it a small, tight community," Layne says. "That idea of seeing people over and over again during the weekend. It's really friendly and family-like. We want everyone to feel really welcome. At the same time, we don't want it to be just a bunch of an anonymous faces. We want you to feel like you know everybody there."
If you're in search of the chill camping weekend of your dreams and don't mind a few mosquitos, the Rainbow Trout Music Festival should be the first stop on your itinerary.
Part of the series: The 7th Annual Summer Festival Guide
Published in Volume 69, Number 27 of The Uniter (June 3, 2015)