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Boots and Hearts brings more than music to Oro-Medonte

Held annually on the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Boots and Hearts has become the largest country music festival in Canada, attracting more than 40,000 festivalgoers each year.

Published Apr 12, 2024 at 7:51pm

QP Briefing
QP Briefing
Boots and Hearts brings more than music to Oro-Medonte
Chase Rice performs for 40,000 fans at Boots and Hearts main stage, Sunday, August 7th 2016 at Burl's Creek Event Grounds. (CP Images/Boots and Hearts Music Festival/Photo)

The annual Boots and Hearts Music Festival has been entertaining music fans since 2012. And it’s also been a major supporter of local charitable causes.

Held annually on the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Boots and Hearts has become the largest country music festival in Canada, attracting more than 40,000 festivalgoers each year.

The festival brings more than just music fans to the region, it also brings hundreds of thousands in charitable donations and offers support to multiple community initiatives. In the last five years alone, festival producers, Republic Live, and the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds have donated more than $750,000 to several charities in the region.

Numerous charitable organizations have benefited from the Boots and Hearts Music Festival including the Campfire Circle (formerly Camp Oochigeas), which provides programs for kids and families affected by childhood cancer; Musicounts, a charity that provides new musical instruments and equipment to in-need schools nationwide; and the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation, which supports people living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Other organizations that received support from the festival include the United Way of Greater Simcoe County, Habitat for Humanity Huronia, the Royal Victoria Hospital - Hearts and Minds Foundation, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; and the Seasons Centre for Grieving Children, which offers support to children and their families grieving the death, or life-threatening illness of an immediate family member. Outside of the financial contributions made by the organizers, hundreds of ticket donations have been provided to local charities, causes and events for raffles, auctions and other forms of essential funding.

Todd Jenereaux from Republic Live said he’s pleased with the impact Boots & Hearts has had on the region.

“We are proud to be a member of this community, and have brought amazing, safe immersive events to the region. Our commitment to the community, our festival patrons and all our stakeholders [are] the first priority for us,” he said.

“We have invested massive amounts of time and money in making the site as efficient as possible, and our record for the safety and care of our patrons is among the highest in the world. Our support of local causes and events is our way of extending our commitment to this community.”

Oro-Medonte Mayor Randy Greenlaw is a strong supporter of the event, celebrating it for putting the township “on the map,” and drawing the “best recognized and talented country music artists in the world.”

The Boots and Hearts Music Festival has also supported community initiatives, including the Oro-Medonte Minor Soccer Club. This non-profit and non-competitive club supports more than 600 kids and 58 sponsored teams and has been using the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds’ fields, parking lots, and restrooms since 2015. Burl’s Creek also facilitates the storage of nets and other assets belonging to the soccer club.

According to Kelly Shelswell, president of the Oro-Medonte Minor Soccer Club, while Burls Creek has been the home for the Oro-Medonte Minor Soccer Association for many years, there were concerns when the venue was sold to Republic Live that the cub “could lose the fields and have to close the league.”

But that wasn’t the case. Instead, Shelswell said the club “continued to have the opportunity to rent the venue to operate our soccer season,” and the site owner’s have been accommodating in supplying additional services, maintaining the parking area and permitting on-site storage.

“Without Burls Creek, 525 local youth [between the ages of] 4-14 would not have a place to play and grow their soccer skills.”

In 2018 and 2019, the Oro-Medonte Kids Run also took place on the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, which raised over $21,000 for the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Simcoe Muskoka Regional Child and Youth Mental Health Program. Several other community and sports groups are given access passes to Boots and Hearts every year to collect aluminum cans, a partnership that promotes recycling, community causes, and sports. The value of cans collected by these volunteer and charity groups totals over $40,000 annually.

The Boots and Hearts Barn Burner is a charity hockey game that raises money for the Royal Victoria Health Centre and Providing Instruments for Excellence (PIE) Education. The Mayor of Barrie, Alex Nuttall, has partnered with Boots & Hearts and in 2023, they successfully filled over 3,000 backpacks with school supplies and back-to-school necessities for underprivileged children. Mayor Nuttall sees this partnership as a success, “each year, Boots & Hearts Music Festival not only captivates the hearts of Country music fans in our community, but also supports numerous community groups and local charitable initiatives. The partnership between the Boots & Hearts Music Festival and the Barn Burner has been instrumental in fueling the ongoing success of the event and most importantly, has sparked a multitude of philanthropic endeavours within our community.”

Another community event that has been given access to the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds includes the Huronia Fur and Feather Breeders Association. This association is provided with the space to host their annual Buy-Sell-Trade Day. The Oro-Medonte Lion’s Club was also provided space to operate their 50/50 draws at Boots and Hearts from 2017 to 2019, which raised as much as $30,000 each year.

So while Canada’s Largest country music festival may drive big crowds to Oro-Medonte every summer, local charities and community groups are drawing in support from the event all year round.

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