The background negotiations…
Mumford & Sons announced last week that one of only four North American ‘Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers’, and the first-ever in Canada, would take place August 23 and 24 at Norfolk County Fairgrounds in Simcoe.
Tickets went on sale for $109 and sold out online in 30 minutes. Norfolk County residents had a special opportunity to buy tickets in person and lined up in downtown Simcoe during last Friday’s snow storm for tickets.
To top it off, Mumford & Sons won the top award — “Best Album of the Year” — at Monday night’s Grammy Award in Los Angeles for their second album, Babel.
This multi-platinum selling British band will draw an estimated 25,000 people to the fair grounds for the August weekend.
The event is being organized and run by Live Nation Entertainment — a multi-billion dollar American entertainment company based in California.
Norfolk County Fair’s General Manager Karen Matthews has clearly stated that the event is not being organized by the local fair board. Norfolk County Fair is leasing their facilities to Live Nation for the weekend event.
However, Norfolk County Fair staff was very involved in negotiations to bring Mumford and Sons to this area.
Ms. Matthews explained to a joint committee meeting of Port Dover Lions and Port Dover Board of Trade members that it all began with a simple phone call from a contact that has worked with the annual fair for several years and was impressed with the growth at the fair.
Before Norfolk was short-listed quiet visits were made to the community.
Then, Live Nation made direct contact with Norfolk County Fair and staff from New York and some band members themselves made several trips to the area. They viewed the facilities and the local communities. The Fair Board officials entertained each visiting group and made sure they received some of the best locally produced food, wines, beer and hospitality.
The entire negotiations were kept ‘top secret’ with only those on a “need to know” basis included in the discussions. Ms. Matthews praised the co-operation of everyone involved in getting the band to come to Norfolk. She offered a special word of praise for Norfolk County officials.
While discussions were going very well, at one point in the talks Ms. Matthews said, it appeared Norfolk was out-of-the-running. But then, just as quickly and for unknown reasons, negotiations were on again.
In the end, and before the announcement could be made, all the band members had to sign off on agreeing to the Norfolk concert.
Mumford and Sons has a huge following in southern Ontario. The band has sold out performances in the largest venues in Toronto and Hamilton. Ms. Matthews says the band likes to make a difference in smaller communities and that the economic effect will be seen across Norfolk County.
Ms. Matthews roughly estimated that the band could have made well over $1-million in additional revenue by playing in Toronto rather than Norfolk County and praised Mumford and Sons and Live Nation for their “Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers” in smaller communities.
Each Stopover combines the intimacy of a community celebration with the excitement of a world-class music festival. This year the Stopovers are expanding to a Friday night concert followed by an all-day Saturday event. Mumford & Sons will headline the Saturday show, alongside an eclectic and energetic roster of artists curated by the band themselves.
A series of smaller events involving local businesses, venues, and, most importantly, local people will happen as well.
In a press release, Mumford & Sons said: “The Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers are all about live music. We get to put them on in towns not normally frequented by touring bands in busses or splitter vans. We deliberately look for towns that have something unique, or some vibe of which they are proud, explore them and enjoy what they have to offer.”
The Simcoe concert will feature Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Dan Mangan, Willy Mason on Fridy and on Saturday the line-up will include Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, Hey Rosetta!, The Vaccines, Bear’s Den.
Hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts throughout Norfolk, Brant and beyond are already fully booked.
Norfolk County is setting up a registry of residents willing to rent out a bedroom. Camping will also be set up at Norfolk County Fairgrounds.