Established in 2009 by artist Marilyn Koop, Riverfest Elora is an annual weekend-long festival that takes place along the banks of the scenic Grand River in Elora, Ontario. The festival’s main goal is to share great music, art, food and culture with the thousands of people who attend every summer. Though Koop passed away in 2012, the festival continues to pay tribute to her incredible achievements by ensuring the festival’s commitment to music, art, the community and the environment, in addition to honouring her with the giant green “M” canvas on the festival grounds.
Since its inception, the festival has brought many high-tier and indie artists to the small town of Elora including Carly Rae Jepsen, Blue Rodeo, The Flaming Lips, July Talk, MGMT, Gogol Bordello, Sloan, Bahamas, Yukon Blonde, Kardinal Offishall, Chromeo, The Sheepdogs, 54-40, The Sadies, Born Ruffians, Grand Analog, Charles Bradley, Serena Ryder, Matthew Good and Rich Aucoin. While most of the music takes place on the festival grounds during the day, the festival also offers a series of nightly, ticketed 19+ afterparties at venues in the city.
The festival also features an Artisan Alley selling wares by Ontario-based art vendors, along with food and drink vendors with a range of options to accommodate dietary restrictions. Many of the festival’s initiatives have been designed to be environmentally conscious: the festival is waste-conscious and a bottled water-free event, instead offering branded mugs that attendees can also use to access discounted alcoholic beverages.
The festival offers camping at the Elora Gorge conservation area, where campers can explore the cliffs and go tubing down the river, and then access the festival grounds via free shuttles or bikes. Non-campers are encouraged to not drive to the festival and to instead use free shuttle busses that run between Elora, Fergus and Guelph.
Riverfest Elora also hosts several events throughout the year, including their annual Behind the Mask masquerade ball, which raises funds for local youth mental health initiatives. Leading up to its 10th instalment in 2018, the festival announced the first “Road to Riverfest” tour, which found past and future Riverfest Elora performers touring across Ontario to drum up support for the festival. The tour returned in 2019.