Jay Chetwynd wants PEC FEST to be an authentic County experience
Looks can be deceiving. At first glance you may see Jay Chetwynd, with his tie-dyed clothes and Iron Maiden Tshirts and take him for a slacker. Well, you’d be dead wrong. Chetwynd is the antithesis of a slacker. His background is extensive in the music industry. He went to music business school and has spent time at MTV and at Virgin Records as a Rock Sales Associate. But Chetwynd is best known as a one-man festival organizer and creator of the Eighth Annual Smokin’ Blues Fest and the Sixth Annual Maritime Metal and Hard Rock Festival, all hosted in Nova Scotia. PEC FEST is the first festival for Chetwynd in the County, and he is already feeling the love from his community. The festival will be held at the Milford Fairgrounds on August 10 and 11. The festival will offer safe, on-site camping, local food vendors and artisans. There will also be an open mic for local folks who want to let their stars shine. Some of the acts confirmed for the weekend are Lee Harvey Osmond (Tom Wilson), Wild T and the Spirit, Chris Antonik, Ottawa’s Blues & Company, Crown Lands, local upstarts Moon Sugar and more. For PEC FEST, Chetwynd wanted to make sure that the festival was authentic from the start.
“I chose the Milford Fairgrounds specifically because it was the best fit for the grassroots nature of the festival. I could have chosen a venue closer to town that would have driven more traffic, but that’s not what PEC FEST is about. It’s a familydriven festival full of music and good times. People coming will get a good taste of the County at this festival”
The good times for Chetwynd though, happen at the very end of this whole adventure. Before the good times are had there is an unfathomable amount of worrying, calculating, organizing and troubleshooting. Major worries for an outdoor festival include weather, legal liabilities and the safety of the patrons of the festival. You add a camping aspect to the festival, and those worries extend to 24 hours a day until everyone is gone.
“Weather nightmares. They happen like clockwork about 30 days before a festival starts. I have dreams that a storm comes along and desecrates my entire festival,” says Chetwynd
But with seven years and 14 festivals behind him now, Chetwynd has systems and a structure in place and every year things get smoother and more refined. He jokes that he has graduated with honors from the school of hard knocks, but in that time he’s also gained a wealth of knowledge on how to properly run an outdoor music festival. He’s gone from the new-kid on the block to the savvy, experienced promoter who’s been through it all. Chetwynd’s dedication to the festival-life is so great, that for a vacation he volunteers every year at the Calabogie Blues & Ribfest outside of Ottawa. When asked why he volunteers, he says that he would be there anyways.
“It’s my favourite festival. It’s at a ski resort in the summertime and the stage is at the bottom of the hill. People can camp and pitch tents all the way up the hill. You have these amazing views looking down on the stage. It’s the best vibe. I get a lot out of volunteering there,” says Chetwynd.
After spending some time with Chetwynd, you realize that even the clothes he wears are carefully curated and speak to who he is and what he represents. He has a fierce work ethic, also running a cleaning business to pay the bills and help fund his passion of organizing music festivals. And just because cleaning houses was never his true passion, don’t think he takes the job any less seriously. Chetwynd spent years in the County building up a base of clients for his cleaning business by being reliable and meticulous. These people trust him with the maintenance of their properties while they are away, sometimes for months at a time. He maintains multiple properties and is always available when you call. He has maintained such loyalty that clients are constantly asking him how they can support the festival. Chetwynd and his wife, Jenni, have three small children, including a set of twins. The family settled in the County five years ago.
“Jenni was born and raised in the County, so we thought it would be great to raise our family here as well. We were living in Nova Scotia and got sick of the lack of opportunities.”
To ensure that the festival is connected to the community and respectful of the land, PEC FEST has two local marketing strategies. The first being that two dollars from every ticket bought at PEC FEST will go directly to a local charity. Upon entry to the festival, patrons will receive a poker chip and will be able to place that poker chip in one of three barrels, each dedicated to a different local charity.
The other marketing piece could be a County sensation. Shelldon the turtle is the official mascot of PEC FEST, and Shelldon was created specifically to raise awareness for the plight of the turtles and other habitat initiatives in the County. A full-size mascot—and even an automobile version of Shelldon— could be seen on County roads in the near future.
Tickets for the festival are on sale. Weekend passes with camping included are $30 per day. Visit pecfest.ca for information. It’s a massive undertaking, but one that is being done with the community in mind, and for Chetwynd, it’s all in the name of rock’n’roll.
“If I didn’t love music so much I wouldn’t bother. If I didn’t have the need that my soul requires to make sure my boys appreciate music and what it is. I don’t want them to identify with ringtones, I want them to identify with albums and live performance. I’m afraid that if guys like me don’t do it, it’ll become a ringtone world.”