Nor-East’r returns for 14th year


MIO — For the 14th year the Nor-East’r Music & Art Festival will feature a weekend of music and artistic activities June 9-11.

Headlining this year’s performance is Grand Rapids musician Brian Vander Ark, a solo performer and lead singer of The Verve Pipe. The Verve Pipe, which formed in 1992, scored a Recording Industry Association of America platinum certification for its 1997 sophomore album “Villains.” The band released its newest album, Parachute, in 2017. Vander Ark’s most recent release under his own name was the collaborative album “Simple Truths” with fellow Michigander and actor Jeff Daniels in 2016.

Other headlines include the eclectic jazz/funk/rock Grand Rapids-based Afro Zuma, folk musician May Erlewine and the Jon Stickley Trio, a gypsy jazz/bluegrass/hip-hop group from Asheville, N.C.

The event also features a bonfire, open mic opportunities, local vendors and workshops for artists.

According to founder Buffy Carr, Nor-East’r came about to replace Oscoda County’s annual fair, which was on the decline. Carr and friend Richelle Sieland saw more potential in the property used for the fair and wanted to do something similar to the Wheatland Music Festival near Remus.

The two attended the Wheatland — where they conducted interviews and took video, with the festival’s permission — to get an idea of how to create a similar festival in Oscoda County. They presented their findings to the chamber of commerce and registered as a nonprofit. Carr said the festival took two years to plan prior to its start in 2003.

While Carr said the first festival was a great event, the inaugural festival had a poor turnout with 400 attendees.

“We actually went into the red for the first year,” Carr said.

Carr decided to have local businesses sponsor bands individually. She said this helped turn things around.

“We were not only in the black, but we paid off that first year by our second festival in 2004,” Carr said. “Since then it’s grown very slowly, but very steadily.”

Craig Carrick, who has a cabin in Curran, saw a poster for the festival and wanted to know to get involved, according to Carr. He decided do this by giving away guitars starting in 2003. Each year guitars are given to kids interested in learning the instrument. In past years Carrick has also given away drum kits, mandolins, violins and ukuleles.

In order to receive a guitar, kids need to be able to fill out the registration for the drawing and be present when the drawing occurs.

In 2009, the festival started its own scholarship program, providing a minimum of $500 for two to three students for a college of their choice. Carr said the largest amount the festival had provided was $810 per student. This year Reed Galer of Mio and Rhiannon Hall of Fairview received the scholarship. The two will get a minimum amount of $500, but may receive more based on donations from this year’s festival.

This year’s event will feature three stages with two indoors and one outdoors. While indoor seating is available, those who require seating outdoors will need to bring their own chairs.

“If they haven’t been (to the festival) in the past, they’re really missing out and need to come check it out,” Carr said.

For more information on the lineup, events and tickets, visit


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