History/Timeline

July 14, 1984 - Hillside is Born!

Located at the Riverside Park Band shell. Admission is free with an optional donation fee. The program is distributed on a single, photocopied sheet that promises: "11 hour music celebration for all ages - noon - 11pm."

July 13, 1985 - Head to Head with Live Aid. 

Hillside is takes place the same day as Live Aid. Admission fee is $5.00 in advance, $6.00 at the gate, $4.00 unwaged. The seven-act line up includes Common Ground, Tamarack, Magician Tom Kubinek, The Reverbs, James Gordon, and Aleod. All artist perform free of charge. Food is provided by the Guelph Food Co-op.

July 19, 1986 - The Hillside "Brand".

Billed as "small town integrity" with "homegrown musical talent, craft display, and wholesome foods." Workshops introduced, including kayaking, angling, and kite flying. Hillside is incorporated as a non-profit with a board of directors and joins the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals.

July 17-19, 1987 - Island Bound. 

Hillside moves to Guelph Lake Island and expands to a three-day event with multiple stages.The Hillside bus is introduced, picking festival patrons up downtown in front of the Treanon Restaurant. Camping and the beer tent are introduced.

July 15-17, 1988 - Field, Brick, Grove.

The main stage is named the Field Stage. Stages 1 and 2 become the Brickhouse and Grove stages. The downtown bus stop is moved to the Stone Store. Blue boxes, supplied by the city, are introduced for recycling cans, glass, and newsprint.

July 21-23, 1989 - Take it to the Top.

Guelph is cited as one of the "top ten places to live in Canada" and Hillside is one of the reasons. Hillside receives its first Ontario Arts Council and City of Guelph grants. Guelph Lake Conservation area improves water and electrical services to the island. Price of a Hillside membership is $15.

July 20-22, 1990 - Sold Out!

Hillside has its first sold-out Saturday night. The Hillside community quilt is made during the festival, and then raffled off on site. The first festival map is printed.

July 19-21, 1991 - Speaking Out. 

Spoken word performances are introduced. Hat bands are introduced. Musicians place their names in a hat, drawing them to see who plays together. Introduction of the Hillside "free for all." After the last performance on Sunday, all patrons are invited to share thoughts and ideas about the festival.

July 1-19, 1992 - A New Identity.

The current Hillside logo is introduced. A solar stage is provided by Energy Action Council. The Mind, Body, and Spirit tent opens.

July 23-25, 1993 - Tofu Love Punx.

The first environmental expo is introduced. The youth committee, open to 16-20 year olds is formed. They call themselves the "Tofu Love Punx." A volunteer "thank-you" party is held at the Brick Brewery in Waterloo.

July 22-24, 1994 - Changes.

First year that ticket prices include admission to the Guelph Lake Conservation Area. Over 400 volunteers sign up. The program includes food vendor menus. Youth bands, chosen by volunteers, perform on the main stage.

July 21-23, 1995 - Survey Says...

Speed River Cycle offers free lockup and minor repairs. Ticket prices rise to $35 for Early Birds and $45 Advance. The Hillside budget reaches $250,000. The first Hillside Survey is distributed.

July 19-21, 1996 - Top 25.

Acoustic Guitar Magazine ranks Hillside as one of the top 25 festivals in North America (with one of the smallest budgets). The city implements the Wet/Dry waste system.

July 25-27, 1997 - The Fashion Fuzz.

Spoken Word and Hand Drumming profiles are included in program. Fashion policeman, O.J. Anderson, patrols Hillside distributing hilarious citations.

July 24-26, 1998 - Going Online.

The Hillside web site is launched. There are more than 500 volunteers and 40 acts. The famous "mud kids" photo is on the back cover of program.

July 23-25, 1999 - Cirlce of Love. 

The Aboriginal Circle is launched. Evergreen Seniors Center and Guelph-Wellington Seniors Association celebrate "International Year of the Older Person." A major thunderstorm shuts down the Main Stage. All acts are temporarily relocated to the tents.

July 21-23, 2000 - Taking Hillside Home. 

The first Hillside CD is released, featuring live tracks from the 1999 festival. The Hillside t-shirt is made from 100% organic cotton. There are more than 800 volunteers, a Hillside record.

July 20-22, 2001 - The Merch Tent.

Performer's merchandise is housed in a separate tent due to unprecedented sales the previous year.

July 19-21, 2002 - Onto a New Stage.

The permanent Hillside Community Stage is completed. Weekend passes sell out for first time. More than 1,000 volunteers work the festival.

July 25, 2003 - Hillside Turns 20. 

Hillside turns 20. Online ticket sales are introduced. After 12 years, The Barenaked Ladies return to Hillside and perform a Thursday night fundraiser to help pay for the new stage.

July 23-25, 2004 - Good Growth.

Hillside does its first full financial audit, opening the door to larger grants from government. Investments are made in island infrastructure to support the growing festival.

July 22-25, 2005 - Green Roof.

For the first time, all tickets are sold out before the festival opens. The living roof on the permanent stage is planted, irrigation begins. The traditional two-gate system is changed and the main gate is re-located to the parking area.

July 21-23, 2006 - Electrifying. 

Weekend passes sell out in under a week. The island's electricity infrastructure is improved. Food vendors expand around the site, beyond food pavilion.

July 27-29, 2007 - Going Inside.

Hillside's free public water program is introduced. Sign language interpreters are available for some of the performances. First annaul Hillside Inside is held at the Sleeman Centre in February. 

July 25-27, 2008 - 25th Anniversary.

Hillside celebrates its 25th anniversary. The dishwashing team introduces a new resusabe product, a Spork - half spoon and half fork.

July 24-26, 2009 - Volunteers.

New intiatives created in Volunteer Managament such as: Group Orientation for New Volunteers, Eco Volunteer Waste Crew and Volunteer Support Crew.

July 23-25, 2010 - Even More Electrifying. 

Lightning rods are installed on the Main Stage and Food Pavillion roofs. Hillside Inside expands over 2 days and multiple venues. Hillside sponsored by Natvik Design who generously donated hundreds of native and locally-adapted plants to ticket-buyers on the May on-sale day.  For this, they are awarded the 'Most Innovative Partnership' award from Festival & Events Ontario.

July 22-24, 2011 - Trash-Turnaround.

Hillside partners with Green Legacy to give white pine seedlings to all loyal ticket buyers who came to the office on the first day of sales. Hillside offers a fully biodegradable beer mug made from a corn based resin. Trash-Turnaround Stations are created to help better sort through different types of waste.

July 27-29, 2012 - Advocacy, Award and Accessibility.

Organized bike rides are led to and from the festival each day by Guelph's cycling advocacy group GOTBike. Lloyd Grinham, our Site Director and long standing volunteer is awarded the Festivals and Events Ontario Hall of Fame award for "oustanding contribution to a festival". Hillside receives a federal grant to begin working on a new accessible website so that it will be easier for people with special needs to participate in our online culture.