Skip to content

Roots North fest celebrating 10th anniversary, 'expanding reach'

'It's not just downtown venues anymore. . . .We are expanding our reach and getting more people out to enjoy live music,' said festival founder

In musical terms, you could say the Roots North Music Festival has grown in size from a flute to a double bass.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary from April 18 to 21, the popular home-grown festival will be offering more music in more venues than ever before later this month.

"We first started with 200 seats at the Orillia Community Church (OCC) and we didn't sell out. We had other artists at six local venues," recalled volunteer organizer Derick Lehmann, a founder of the music festival.

"Now we are at 30 artists throughout the weekend at 15 different venues. We moved to St. Paul's a few years ago and we have 400 seats for paid entertainment there," Lehmann explained.

The venue is now sold out every year, said Lehmann, who added that tickets for this year's event are selling quickly.

The festival has two main parts: The main stage for paid entertainment and local businesses which are hosting musical performances, with no cover charge.

Five headliner bands are performing over Friday and Saturday nights at the St. Paul's Centre. Orillia's own Bleeker and the Red Hill Valleys are performing Friday night. Begonia, Spencer Burton and Julian Taylor are performing Saturday night.

Bleeker is among the headliners for the 10th Roots North Music Festival coming to Orillia April 18-21. Supplied Photo

Juno-nominated Bleeker is an alternative rock band from Orillia who has opened for Aerosmith and played with Big Wreck and The Trews.

Canadian singer/songwriter Begonia is a multi-Juno and Polaris-prize nominated artist who has played at sold-out shows across North America. 

 The festival aims to offer diverse styles of talented musicians from rock and blues and roots to country and classical.

"Any genre you can think about ... we've got lots of variety for people to chose from," said Lehmann.

Weekend passes are now on sale for both nights for $65. Lehmann said wrist bands can be shared if different people want to attend one night and not the other.

St. Paul's Centre is also hosting the annual art market, which has been a part of the festival since 2014. This year, approximately 15 artists will be selling musical items, candles, paintings, ceramics and more on Friday and Saturday evenings. There is no cost to attend the art market. Drinks will be available on site through a partnership with Quayle's Brewery.

The festival just keeps growing, said Lehmann.

"It's not just downtown venues anymore. We are outside the downtown core as well at Lot 88 and Lake Country Grill," said Lehmann. There is also musical performances at Quayle's Brewery in Oro-Medonte Township.

"We are expanding our reach and getting more people out to enjoy live music," he said.

April was chosen for a couple of reasons, he noted.

"It launches the festival season in Ontario," said Lehmann. "More importantly, this festival grew out of trying to support downtown Orillia in the shoulder season when it's not typically busy."

About 60 per cent of weekend passes are purchased by people from outside Orillia, so it is attracting tourists who are eating at the restaurants, Lehmann said.

The festival has about 20 volunteers, but anyone wanting to volunteer should message organizers through the Facebook page.

Tickets to the headliner shows can be purchased through the website: or at Alleycats Music at 95 Mississaga St. E. in downtown Orillia.

For the full schedule and more information, visit the website or find the Roots North Music Festival on Facebook, Instagram, X or YouTube.

Reader Feedback

Gisele Winton Sarvis

About the Author: Gisele Winton Sarvis

Gisele Winton Sarvis is an award winning journalist and photographer who has focused on telling the stories of the people of Simcoe County for more than 25 years
Read more