Hoot Owl Festival of Music and Art, formally known as Shine On, returns for its 15th year Aug. 22-25.
Hoot Owl is a small indie festival held on private property in Kerry, Man. This year’s festival will be headlined by Attica Riots, Sweet Alibi, Micah Erenberg Band, Mobina Galore, Bullrider and the Honest Heart Collective.
The last edition of the festival known as Shine On was held in 2017. After the previous festival organizer moved away, Shine On volunteer Lisa Mills was put in charge of the festival by the landowner in 2018, and Shine On became Hoot Owl.
Rylie Saunders and Kevin Repay were hired to help with event management and promotion a month before Hoot Owl 2018 to help with promotion and management.
Saunders and Repay are both members of the Village Idiots, a local music production and promotion company.
“We noticed they had a good lineup [in 2018], and then us as the Village Idiots actually reached out because we realized they weren’t really advertising or promoting,” said Saunders.
After last year’s Hoot Owl, Repay and Saunders became co-owners of the festival along with Mills. They have distributed responsibilities among them, with Repay as the art director, Saunders as the music director and Mills as the operations director.
Repay and Saunders are involved with an art installment at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, host events as part of the Village Idiots and are regular attendees of other Manitoban festivals.
“We’re trying to take the best pieces of all the festivals that we’ve ever attended and bring them into one,” said Repay.
Saunders said running Live at the Roslyn as part of the Village Idiots has essentially allowed him to throw a weekly party. He said he is excited to run a larger scale event.
“We’re just looking at it from the fact that we want to throw a successful party,” said Saunders.
“If I make no money, if I come out of there at zero dollars, it’s better than me having gone to someone else’s festival,” said Repay.
“Because we created the festival,” finished Saunders.
Saunders said Hoot Owl provides a non-judgmental place for people to party.
“That’s the goal, you just want everyone to have a good time, feel completely safe, everyone should be able to feel like they can be themselves,” said Saunders.
Campground safety volunteers, as well as the festival co-owners, the friendly landowner known as Al to attendees, and a local family who runs the site’s café will be onsite to ensure people feel safe and welcomed.
“We have a pretty straightforward safe space policy […] like don’t be a dick to anybody, and if somebody’s feeling unsafe, it should be in their right and their availability to let somebody know and that should be addressed,” said Repay.
The three co-owners also picked musical acts whose energy would mesh well with the festival’s ethos. Mills, Repay and Saunders ran open submissions for the 2019 musical lineup, looking for diversity and acts that attendees would be most excited about. They picked old favourites like the Remedies, but varied the acts from previous years.
“We wanted artists that really want to play the festival, of course, that would be at the festival anyway,” said Saunders.
Last year, the Thursday night of the festival was only a sound check night. Hoot Owl 2019 will have a full headliner night with four bands.
In addition to expanding the musical acts, Repay and Saunders are bringing in large-scale art installments and structures that are featured at many other music festivals.
Art and crafts, Big Games company’s oversize versions of famous games and a Sunday workshop will also be featured this year to expand what the festival has to offer.
Saunders and Repay said they want to bring more light into the festival’s nights with lit up animations.
“We want to have more of that Folk Fest vibe when you walk around late at night […] we’re taking submissions for that,” said Saunders.
Repay and Saunders are trying to illuminate the beauty of the festival, rather than drastically change it.
“The heart of Shine On, that’s what people love […] and we’re just trying to make sure we do it justice, make sure people know it’s still happening,” said Saunders.
All the organization and planning that goes into the festival is important, but the people attending are what make Hoot Owl special, according to Saunders.
“The people there are what bring out the personality of the festival,” said Saunders.
Early bird prices are available until April 30. Hoot Owl 2019 is BYOB, free for children under 12 and dog friendly. Camping is included in the ticket price. For more information, the full lineup or to get involved, visit the Hoot Owl 2019 Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com/event/3919671.