Sackville’s Sappy Fest is a window into how swamp magic fuels a community

Now in its 14th year, we asked festivalgoers what “Swamp Magic” means to them and how it's sustained?

September 5, 2019

It would happen that the moment someone reacted to the knowledge of my shooting all on 35mm film on assignment as “risky” that the shutter would jam and the film got caught advancing. When you’re riding the wave that is life sometimes, the universe likes to throw a tactical “LOL” learning lesson in your face during a rare moment of thinking you’ve like totally got it dude. I was documenting this past Sappy Fest in Sackville, New Brunswick, this past August long weekend, the festival’s 14th year. In my 11th year of photographing festivals, I was feeling comfy, and then the gear just gave. 

I always say I still shoot film because it forces me to be more in the moment, be more present, and when shit happens you have to work with it. It forces you out of the box. What better place than Sappy Fest to put me to the test. What an ideal space to be forced with growth and face the challenge of it, as the festival itself has done an inspiring job of just that. What started as quite a white indie guitar rock space has grown the heck up, and opened it’s best-kept secret: booking to any and all genres with instead an emphasis on vibe and if you can bring it.

As Mr. Sappy aka Mr. Jimmie the Shotgun aka Shotgun Jimmie said himself, “SappyFest is a festival notorious for its unique slogans: “Start a Family,” “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” “Win the Battle of Love” andof course – “Swamp Magic,” are some of my favourites.”  

This year’s Sappy Slogan was LUCKY NUMBERS. In manipulating these analog images I reflected and meditated back on the moments, allowing the numbers that came to mind to guide each piece. It was a luck-filled weekend of music, art, friendship, glitter (given out by yours truly) and swamp magic. Throughout the fest we asked fellow Sappy babes what “Swamp Magic” means to them and what they think sustains it. What makes it worth the journey all the way to a tiny art town in the East Coast, forgoing the big box Osheaga’s of the country? Why do a multitude of Sappy Fest goers refer to it as the best weekend of the year? Let’s flashback to smackdab in the middle of summer and dive into what makes this fest so special. My reports from the swamp are as follows…

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