Spend one day, or four, in the beautiful countryside with ShazamFest!

Wrestlers from the AcadŽmie de Lutte Estrienne are among the entertainment options at ShazamFest 2016.
Wrestlers from the AcadŽmie de Lutte Estrienne are among the entertainment options at ShazamFest 2016.

ShazamFest is an annual summer event that combines music, food, circus arts, skateboarding, and local artisans, to name just a few of its ingredients. It takes place from Thursday, July 14, through to Sunday, July 17 in Barnston Ouest in the Eastern Townships. Camping facilities are available.

The entertainment lineup includes Michelle Bourque The Blacksmiths, Old Time Honey & Cirquantique, Blue Mushroom Sirkus Psyshow, Bloodshot Bill, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra and Kiriaki.

There will also be wrestlers from the Académie de Lutte Estrienne, Albert Nerenberg’s Hypnotic Bar, a Beard and Mustache Competition, and a Skateboard Competition. (Check out the Shazamfest schedule here, read about the Hypnotic Bar here.)

Skateboarding at an earlier edition of ShazamFest. Photo by Claude Dufresne.
Skateboarding at an earlier edition of ShazamFest. Photo by Claude Dufresne.

This year marks ShazamFest’s eleventh edition. The event was founded by Ziv Przytyk, a guy who’s full to bursting with energy, warmth, enthusiasm and optimism – truly amazing soul. Przytyk holds ShazamFest on land adjoining the organic farm that his parents established many years ago (and that’s another story unto itself.) ShazamFest just got bigger and more popular over the years; many participants have been coming since the very beginning.

A ticket to ShazmFest includes use of this camp site among the trees. Claude Dufresne photo from the ShazamFest web site.
A ticket to ShazmFest includes use of this camp site among the trees. Claude Dufresne photo from the ShazamFest web site.

Advance tickets for Thursday are $10, they’re $15 at the gate. Tickets for Friday are $40 and $45; Saturday $45 and $55; Sunday is free. A family pass (two adults and two teens) for the whole weekend is $175 in advance and $200 at the gate. People who arrive on bicycles can get a 20 % discount. (More info about tickets here.)

If cycling isn’t convenient and you don’t have a car either, a shuttle bus will leave Montreal at 6 p.m. Friday, July 15. It will leave ShazamFest at 7 p.m. on Sunday July 17 for the trip back to the city.

I want to go to ShazamFest, don’t you?

Musicians and fans at the music-and-more event called ShazamFest. Photo by Claude Dufresne from the ShazamFest web page.
Musicians and fans at the music-and-more event called ShazamFest. Photo by Claude Dufresne from the ShazamFest web page.

ShazamFest is a family-friendly, music-and-lots-more festival that will present its tenth edition from July 9-12, 2015, on an organic farm in Barnston West, in the Eastern Townships.

My first reaction to the locale was “Too far, no car,” but after attending a press conference and meeting some of the incredibly friendly, dedicated, passionate people involved in ShazamFest, including its founder, Ziv Przytyk, I’m hoping I can convince one of my friends with a car to take me there, even if only for one day.

Since we’re talking about “one day,” this is a good time to mention that admission to the festival is free on Sunday, July 12.
Musical acts at ShazamFest include Buck 65, Socalled, Bob Log III, The Damn Truth and the Lemon Bucket Orkestra. (In an interview with La Tribune last year, ShazamFest founder Ziv Przytyk said that the vocalist for The Damn Truth has a voice like Janis Joplin’s. Sounds good!) The band Kyriaki will present the Greek music known as Rebetika. See the full lineup and ShazamFest schedule here.

Wrestling demonstration at ShazamFest. Needless to say, this is not wrestling as seen at the Olympics, or the Pan-Am Games. Photo from the ShazamFest web page.
Wrestling demonstration at ShazamFest. Needless to say, this is not wrestling as seen at the Olympics, or the Pan-Am Games. Photo from the ShazamFest web page.

In addition to music, there will be wrestlers and wrestling workshops, circus workshops, a tie-dye workshop, forging with knife maker and blacksmith David MacDonald, yoga on the beach, skateboarding and the Canadian Extreme Laughter Championship. The “ShazamFest Olympics” will include a tug-of-war and stone skipping. People are urged to wear costumes. There will be prizes for the best ones.

Skateboarders at ShazamFest. Photo from ShazamFest web page.
Skateboarders at ShazamFest. Photo from ShazamFest web page.

Two kitchens will sell tasty, locally sourced meals, with choices suitable for vegans and carnivores; a third kitchen will sell delicious desserts.

The Blue Mushroom Sirkus Psyshow, which has revived the concept of the circus sideshow, will present, among many things, a strongman, sword-swallowing, fire-eating and a burlesque performance by Miss BonBon Bombay that involves flames in, um, surprising and unexpected ways. This was a big hit at the press conference, let me tell you.

Miss BonBon Bombay explained that her fire act was a tribute to veteran burlesque performer Satan’s Angel (The Devil’s Own Mistress, Queen of the Fire Tassels), and that it’s done with her permission and blessing.

The Blue Mushroom Sirkus Psyshow has an amazing web site at bluemushroompsyshow.org; there are clever biographies of troupe members, that suggest possible supernatural connections, and great photos, too. There’s a Facebook page for the Blue Mushroom Sirkus Psyshow, as well.

Strongman The Mighty Leviticus, of The Blue Mushroom Sirkus Psyshow performs at an earlier edition of ShazamFest. I do believe that he is bending steel rebar with his teeth. (Does his dentist know about this?  Photo, by Claude Dufresne, from ShazamFest web site.
Strongman The Mighty Leviticus, of The Blue Mushroom Sirkus Psyshow performs at an earlier edition of ShazamFest. I do believe that he is bending steel rebar with his teeth. (Does his dentist know about this? Photo, by Claude Dufresne, from ShazamFest web site.

So, what about those people I met? The first one was Ziv Przytyk, the founder of ShazamFest. He was as enthusiastic as all get out, and wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit that he had made himself! Talented guy! He explained that he sees the festival, and its rural location, as a “space to bring people together, to create a community.” The first year 400 people came; these days attendance is around 2,000 people. Those people make networks and build friendships there. The festival is now old enough that sometimes three generations of a family will come. There has never been any kind of trouble at ShazamFest. Ziv has a theory that people behave well at the festival because children are there; they are a civilizing influence.

I talked to Miss BonBon Bombay, as mentioned above, and to her colleagues, strongman The Mighty Leviticus, and powerful vocalist Angela Solo. I listened to the singing-and-guitar playing duo Les Deuxluxes, and watched some antics from the Eastern Townships Wrestling Association, who challenged Ziv Przytyk to a showdown at the festival.

As for ShazamFest tickets, there are many options. Children who are 12 years old or younger get in free. A full weekend pass, for one person, which includes camping and parking, will be $90 at the gate, but it was available back in February for only $55. Keep this in mind for next year! The price for Friday is $45, Saturday is $50. A family pass (two adults and two teens) will be $200 at the gate. (As I write this, that pass is available for $175 if bought online.)

People who buy a day pass can stay untill the following morning. In keeping with ShazamFest’s environmentally conscious ethos, people who arrive on a bicycle will get a 20-per-cent discount on their tickets.

And remember that Sunday is free! Visit ShazamFest’s ticket page for complete details.

People who attend ShazamFest are welcome to camp overnight. Photo, by Claude Dufresne, from the ShazamFest web site.
People who attend ShazamFest are welcome to camp overnight. Photo, by Claude Dufresne, from the ShazamFest web site.