Cicada Music & Arts Festival, St. Catharines, Ontario

Erik Dickson

No one person is an island unto themselves, but a number of persons in the arts community of St. Catharines, ON have come together for the Cicada Music and Arts Festival, an isle of creativity along the edge of Lake Ontario. Cicada is not just a homegrown music festival with a heart, it has a purpose and a mission. In 2008, founder Thom Lepp started Cicada as a festival spread across various venues in the Niagara Region. Lepp was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and died in 2017. After a period of dormancy during Lepp’s illness, Cicada was revived by his friends, family, and associates to carry on his legendary love of the arts while also supporting research and awareness of prostate cancer through Movember Canada.

Although a diagnosis is a debilitating and isolating burden on the patient, cancer impacts and touches the lives of those who love and support them as well. It was important to Cicada organizers that the festival be family-friendly, with activities and entertainment for music lovers of all ages, outdoor enthusiasts, and food lovers. Henley Island offered the perfect oasis for Cicada. The small island in the middle of Martindale Pond just off Lake Ontario’s shore was the ideal setting for an environmentally sustainable music festival, offering access to kayaking and canoes (Henely is home to the prestigious Royal Canadian Henley regatta) and a relaxed vibe perfect for the early fall festival.

Whether singing along with the likes of Fred Penner, rocking out with Terra Lightfoot, or taking in talents like Dan Mangan and Donovan Woods, the Henley Island venue offers up an intimate musical experience for artist and audience alike. Like any homegrown festival, Cicada also has a focus on the bounties that the Niagara Region has to offer, showcasing its distinctive culinary offerings along with local musical talents like Spencer Burton, James Blonde, The Kerouacs, and The Bae Beach Club.

The revived and reinvigorated Cicada Music and Arts Festival happens on October 13, 2018, on Henley Island, St. Catharines, ON, but organizers hope that its influence will reach beyond just this one-day event.  They are planning satellite events and activities all year long to continuously engage their audience in supporting prostate cancer research and awareness.

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