WINCHESTER – A childhood favourite for many is making a stop at the village’s Old Town Hall this fall as part of an expanded Ontario Festival of Small Halls.

Fred Penner headlines the historic Winchester facility Fri., Sept. 15, night two of this year’s festival.

Canadian kids’ favourite Fred Penner plays Winchester’s Old Town Hall during a Fri., Sept. 15 stop on the Ontario Festival of Small Halls tour.

The full roster of musicians taking part was unveiled last week, while the 12-day run opens Thurs., Sept. 14 with shows in Beckwith and Chaffey’s Lock and closes Sun., Oct. 1 in Burritt’s Rapids and Kilmaurs.

The line-up is a mix of big-name familiar faces and boundary-pushing roots, folk, pop, soul and bluegrass-inspired musical acts.

Now in its fourth year, the festival expanded its scope again this year, now including more than 30 unique gathering spaces throughout Eastern Ontario, all full of history and heart.

Kelly Symes, the festival’s general manager, noted this year’s roster features some well-known names from the Canadian music scene, while at the same time showcasing emerging artists who will be new to rural Ontario.

“This time around, we selected artists based on their captivating live performance, their stage presence and the ability to connect with their audiences,” she said.

Some of the artists include Ashley MacIsaac, a household name in Cape Breton fiddling, as well as Halifax’s Jenn Grant, Charlottetown’s Rose Cousins and Montreal’s Leif Vollebekk.

Kingston’s own The Abrams Brothers are back again after an explosive performance last year, and festival favourite Old Man Luedecke, who hit the stage during the inaugural year, returns after recently taking home the 2017 East Coast Music Award for Album of the Year.


Thurs., Sept. 14: Stonefields, Beckwith – The Abrams Brothers; Chaffey’s Lock Community Hall – Great Lake Swimmers with Seamus Cowan

Fri., Sept. 15: Almonte Old Town Hall – Great Lake Swimmers with Claire Hunter; Chaffey’s Lock Community Hall – Jenn Grant with Taylor Angus and Logan Brown; Winchester’s Old Town Hall – Fred Penner

Sat., Sept. 16: Joshua Bates Centre, Athens – Rose Cousins with Julia Finnegan; Dunvegan Recreation Centre – Jenn Grant

Sun., Sept. 17: Morton Community Hall – Fred Penner with Barbershop Therapy; Balderson United Church – Jenn Grant with Christine Graves; Tamworth Legion – Great Lake Swimmers

Thurs., Sept. 12: Spencerville Mill – The Outside Track with Moore and McGregor; St. Andrew’s United Church, Toledo – Dave Gunning with Chris Murphy

Fri., Sept. 22: Delta Old Town Hall – The Outside Track with Change of Step; Union Hall, Mississippi Mills – Dave Gunning; Althorpe Bolingbroke Community Hall – Sultans of String with Lost for Words

Sat., Sept. 23: Merrickville United Church – Leif Vollebekk with Off the Grid; Lyndhurst Legion (Branch 504) – Old Man Luedecke; St. Andrew’s United Church, Pakenham – Rosie and the Riveters with Vicki Brittle

Sun., Sept. 24: Tatlock Community Hall – Old Man Luedecke with Bill Connelly; The Red Brick School, Elgin – Rosie and the Riveters; Maberly Community Hall – The Outside Track with Change of Step and the Blue Skies Community Fiddle Orchestra

Thurs., Sept. 28: St. James Catholic Church, Maxville – Ashley MacIsaac with Change of Step; Portland Community Hall – Birds of Chicago; Batstone’s Northern Ramble – Ian Sherwood

Fri., Sept. 29: McDonald’s Corners Agricultural Hall – The Abrams Brothers with Ali McCormick; Seeley’s Bay Community Hall – Ashley MacIsaac

Sat., Sept. 30: Westmeath Recreation Centre – The Abrams Brothers; DACA Centre, Dacre – Ashley MacIsaac with Change of Step

Sun., Oct. 1: Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall – Birds of Chicago; St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kilmaurs – Ian Sherwood with Julian Kerr