On June 16 and 17, The Markham Village Music Festival returns to Main Street in Markham. Headliners Maestro Fresh Wes and Haviah Mighty, both JUNO Award winners, lead the weekend’s lineup that includes more than 50 performances, still, absolutely free of charge.
“The 2023 festival is shaping up to be our biggest event to date,” says talent booker and organizer Kevin Ker. “We are working hard to present the highest calibre festival for Markham.”
Now in its 46th year, the festival has always been one of the most important events of the year for the community at large and the business owners on Main Street but its continued growth is truly remarkable.
“We drew more than 26,000 people over the two days (last year),” explains Judi McIntyre, a past Festival Chair and longtime organizer.
This year promises to be another step forward. In addition to again booking national headliners, the festival has upgraded to four high-end professional stage setups from one and has added more programing designed to appeal specifically to Markham residents while taking a break from music performances.
Musically speaking, the festival is designed to appeal to every age of Markham citizen. It includes a wide range of genres; from hip-hop, rock, jazz, folk, to country and even more. It also specifically highlights Markham’s multicultural mosaic as well with Chinese, Asian, Irish, Macedonian, Spanish Flamenco and Mexican music and dance being featured.
“These groups not only bring out young performers but their families to enjoy the festival,” says McIntyre.
A festival goer can walk the street and see the five different stages of quality entertainment with performers ranging from professional musicians to their own friends and neighbours. Along the way they can check out the craft and food booths set up throughout or even enjoy a beverage at one of the outdoor patios.
As in previous years, Friday night focuses on a number of multicultural communities showcasing their music, dance and food. Don’t be fooled and into thinking this will be somehow less popular, this draws thousands to the street for night one; plan ahead to not miss out.
On Saturday, there will be a farmer’s market featuring food and goods alongside the day’s events and the bottom end of Main will be the Kidz Zone featuring Dan the Music Man.
Saturday also sees the triumphant return of Barkham, a festival within the festival for our furriest friends. Set up at the north end of the Festival, it will include more than 20 vendors dedicated to dogs, an entertainment stage and a photo booth.
“This will definitely be a big draw for pet parents of all ages,” says McIntyre.
Of course, the big draw of the weekend is the music. There will be 5 stages running Friday from 6 to 11 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm.
“The music just doesn’t stop,” says McIntyre.
“It’s one the best displays of inclusive programming of any local festival,” adds Ker. “We have a strong mandate for gender parity as well as bipoc and multicultural representation, both in our performing dance groups and in our live musical acts.”
These mandates don’t just provide opportunities though, they broaden and strengthen the entire lineup. Take Haviah Mighty, Maestro Fresh Wes, Wild T & The Spirit, Pan Fantasy Steel Band, Junestone, and the Blackboard Blues Band; these six artists alone span cultures and gender while promising musical performances not to be missed. The whole festival is built like this.
“The Markham Village Music Festival has more music than any other festival in York Region!” proclaims McIntyre. “More than 400 musicians that take part. There truly is something for everyone from kids to seniors.”
The Markham Village Music Festival runs June 16-17, 2023 on Markham Main Street. Expect the area to be closed to all traffic from 4pm on Friday through the overnight on Saturday.