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Waterstock: The message, the music, the great time (22 photos)

Thousands turn out to event at Erin Fairgrounds to support the message that water is for life, not profit
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ERIN – The first-ever Waterstock was a big, sunny success Sunday at the Erin Fairgrounds.

Water is for life, not profit, was the dominant message behind the music and up front from the many guest speakers who spoke between sets.

“Waterstock is the culmination and the rallying point for everyone in Ontario, not just those that are here,” said Mike Nagy, chairman of Wellington Water Watchers, who put the event on with Riverfest Elora.

“For 10 years we’ve been fighting these permits of Nestle and others. It’s a madness that has to stop. We call packaged water and bottled water a symbol of water inequality, not a symbol of water luxury.

“It is a convenience gone mad. We are swimming in oceans that are filled with plastic and it’s now in our rivers, our lakes and our streams,” Nagy said.

“It’s water for life, not profit,” he echoed.

“The drought of 2016 was a wake-up call that we can no longer take water for granted. Every drop is precious.”

Nagy said the main idea behind Waterstock is to send a message to Premier Kathleen Wynne to take a stand and make a bold policy statement against water taking and phase out the water bottling industry.

The event was a means of delivering a message as well as a fundraiser for the Wellington Water Watchers, who are celebrating their 10th year, and the legal activities of the Chippewas of the Thames.

Waterstock went off without any real hitches, particularly considering it was a first attempt.

Official numbers weren’t available, but a guesstimated 3,500 to 4,000 people turned out to the five-hour event.

Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy closed the show with the set of the day, singing one of his own tunes then initiating a sing-a-long with Blue Rodeo classics Five Days In May and Try. This on the heels of a lovely duet with Oh Suzanna (Suzie Ungerleider).

Bry Webb of the Constantines, Harrow Fair and First Nation-driven rockers Digging Roots all rocked, Test Their Logik provided a taste of eco hip-hop and a variety of acts cooled it down with more chilled performances, including Guelph’s Shannon Kingsbury and her harp and the young teen duo Moscow Apartment, graduates of Guelph’s Girls Rock Camp.

A well-spaced location, 25 non-profit information booths and the food offerings added to the texture of the event.

There were a few minor glitches.

Some people were upset at the philosophical irony of having to empty their water containers on the way into the building (liquor licence rules, apparently), security seemed a little ... prevalent ... considering the crowd, and there were long lineups most of the afternoon to purchase food tickets to the 25 or so higher-end food vendors that showed up.

But overall there was little to complain about. The music was first class. The weather was amazing. The message was sent and received loud and clear.

Whether or not there will a Waterstock next year remains to be seen. But the 2017 version was certainly a memorable event for all the right reasons..