Salmon Festival Survival Guide

Matt Mayes & El Torpedo, Splash \'07

I’m a Grand Falls-Windsor native with a perfect Salmon Festival Splash attendance record; I’ve maneuvered myself through many a Salmon Fest weekend and gathered some expertise along the way. So, just for you, I’ve assembled a townie-friendly guide to one of island’s biggest summertime concerts. Take a read, make some notes and prepare yourself for an excellent weekend of entertainment and Central NL hospitality!

By Sydney Blackmore


The Ticket | Tent City | Weather-Appropriate Clothing | Your ID | Your Camera | The Performers | Cab Numbers & Local Numbers | An Extra Five Bucks | Water and Gum | All Five Senses


Who can put a price on happiness? The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, that’s who. With ticket costs ranging from $49.50 to $54.50, a lucky boy or girl can be the proud owner of a Salmon Festival Splash ticket. The concert is one of a series of events taking place during GFW’s weeklong Salmon Festival from July 17 – 21, but it is certainly the festival’s strongest attraction for outside spectators. On Saturday, July 19, the concert will be celebrating its 23rd birthday on Centennial Field in the company of Blue Rodeo, Metric, Finger Eleven and The Trailer Park Boys…right on!

If you haven’t snagged a ticket yet, it’s not too late. You can purchase tickets at any Irving across the province, or call to order some tix at the Salmon Fest ticket hotline 1-877-JULYROC (585-9762).

The Stage: Hey Rosetta! performs Splash ’07

An action shot of the crowd during a Salmon Fest performance in 2006
A shot of the crowd during Salmon Splash ’06

Some people make the trip to Central Newfoundland’s fishy fest and don’t even catch the concert. Shocking! Isn’t it all about the music? Then again, the Red Cliff camping grounds is a great site for a party, no doubt, able to accommodate upwards of 1,400 tents every year. Each campsite costs $50.00 a pop, which must be prepaid before arrival, and has a strict limit of four people per site.

If you’re going to set up camp, don’t forget your tent, trailer, or car trunk to make for some rough-and-ready sleeping accommodations. Food, water, blankets, a change of clothes and comfortable footwear that’s both waterproof and mud proof are also major must-haves for Red Cliff.  There are outdoor washrooms and showers on-site too, so you won’t have to be grungy all weekend long.

My home in the Dub is on the edge of town and happens to be within perfect viewing of the camping grounds; with the help of a nifty pair of spying binoculars (the non-creepy brand of spying binoculars, of course), every year I’m watching the ever-growing Red Cliff microcosm. But there’s more than just camping here; there’s always a show on the campgrounds, be it a DJ, a local band, or a mini-outdoors lounge set up for the amusement for all the happy cliff hanger’s.

In recent years, the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor implemented strict rules on the Red Cliff camping grounds. When registering to get onto the grounds, each person will have to show his/her concert ticket before gaining admittance into tent city. There are no exceptions here.  Those with a confirmed registration will be given a special bracelet that allows them access to the campgrounds all weekend long, so DON’T lose this! Tickets will be available at the entrance to Red Cliff for those who haven’t  bought them prior to entry.

We all know Newfoundland’s version of Mother Nature can sometimes be a jerk. She’s rained on many an outdoor festival in her day and guess what? She’s gonna do it again. Although the Summer Gods have been shining down on Newfoundlanders all over the island these past few weeks, you should have some gear that makes you invincible to all weather types. So what if the forecast for Friday and Saturday calls for  sun with no chance of rain? You should still pack your poncho or rain gear, some warm clothes and sunblock with an SPF 30. That way you can enjoy the concert in the sun, the rain, the wind and the mud. And if it does get a little wet, you can still dance, drink, eat and play in the rain, so you’ll be good to go if you come prepared! As expressed by Homer Simpson, “It’s just a little soggy, it’s still good, it’s still good!”

You\'re never too old to play in a massive mud puddle. So bring a pair of rubber boots and get dirty
You’re never too old to play in the mud with your rubbers!

If raindrops keep fallin\' on yer head over the Salmon Fest weekend, cover up with the appropriate rain gear to keep dry
If raindrops keep fallin’ on yer head, cover up with some rain gear to stay dry

Yes, on Centennial Field there IS a beer tent and everybody’s invited. And by ‘everybody’, I mean those of you who are 19 years and older. And the security personnel on the field won’t be messing around. They’re going to ask you for an ID before you try to get into the big boys & girls tent, so if you want in, don’t forget or lose this important piece of identification!

If you’re going to the show, then this will be a solid weekend of memory making. And what’s a memory without some photographic proof of your escapades? Think of all the photo -ops! Take pictures of yourself and long lost friends also taking in the show, or that really drunk guy in the beer tent treating the crowd to a dirty striptease, or how about a snap of Jim Cuddy playing his a-cute-stic guitar? So take along a photo maker and you’ll build a nice collection of entries for your picture frames and Facebook pages.
You never know what\'ll turn up at Salmon Festival Splash
Photo Op #234, Salmon Fest ’06

You don’t have to be a serious fan to enjoy live music; good music will speak to you even if you don’t know the words. BUT it never hurts to study up on the performing artists and listen to some tunes a few weeks before the show, just to pump yourself up. And that way, you won’t miss out on some serious crowd sing-a-long action! Why not make a mixed CD filled with this year’s Salmon Fest performers? It’d make for a good road trip soundtrack, to listen to while you’re on your way to GFW.
Papa String:

In years past, rumours of entertainers frequenting red cliff, the Joe Byrne Stadium and other local watering holes have cropped up throughout Salmon Festival weekend. During Salmon Fest of `03, the rumour mill placed musicians Sam Roberts and Swollen Members at Red Cliff with crowd of very lucky tent dwellers for an impromptu after-hours acoustic performance. I wasn’t there, but my sister’s friend’s cousin’s boyfriend’s roommate was and said the guys were really cool.  So keep your eyes peeled this weekend, you never know who’ll you meet out there.

Matt Mayes & El Torpedo, Splash \'07
A True Guitar Hero: Matt Mayes & El Torpedo, Splash ’07

There are sooooooo many parties in town that aren’t exclusive to Centennial Field & Red Cliff. If you have a friend from the area, give them a shout! Locals always know the best spots to hang out if you’re looking to take a break from the field or escape the craziness of tent city.
A load of shuttle buses will continuously make trips between the campsite and the field on Friday and Saturday, but here’s a few local cab numbers that may come in handy for you: Bluebird Taxi (709) 489-5757; Central Cabs 489-6661 & 489-9666; Diamond Taxi Ltd 489-7171; Town Cabs 489-7278; Twin Town Taxi 489-8946

If you’re ever in a situation that calls for medical attention or law enforcement, find one of the many first aid representatives or constables located throughout the field for assistance. But just in case, the address and telephone contacts for the hospital and police detachment in the area are listed below:

Central West Health Corporation 50 Union Street, Grand Falls-Windsor, NL, A2A 2E1 Tel: (709) 292-2500
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Trans Canada Highway, Grand Falls-Windsor NL A2A 2J8 Tel:489-2121

This is a huge weekend for The Dub, for its locals and its economy. Scads of local businesses, craft makers and NL entrepreneurs set up shop on the day of the concert and offer a pretty good variety of wares. So take some time throughout the day to peruse the merchandise and you might walk away with a nice locally-made treat for yourself.

There’s no shortage of food stands to be found on both the concert field and Red Cliff. To sample an amazing and greasy must-have GFW delicacy, check out the HISCOCK’S stand. Hiscock’s Drive-In is a family business started by Wallace & Flo Hiscock in 1960 and its stand offers fresh, seasoned deep fried potato wedges that are crispy on the outside and soft and floury on the inside. You can customize your wedgies with toppings of gravy, dressing, wieners and onions. Mmmmm!

Why? Because, it’s water & gum! Trust me, you’re going to need both of these at some point throughout the weekend.

There’s a lot to take in during Salmon Festival Splash; it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the summer with good music and lots of company. To make sure you don’t get stranded among the bodies or the tent squatters, be aware of where you’re going and who you’ll meet when you get there. It just makes for a better, less stressful Salmon experience. And if ever you feel like you need some assistance, seek out the local volunteers, security and first aid personnel that are on-site at the field and the red cliff quarters. So be safe, have fun and enjoy this year’s Salmon Fest Extravaganza!

If you need assistance during the show, find one of the many security and first-aid workers on-site at both Centennial Field & Red Cliff

If you need assistance during the show, find one of the many security and first-aid workers on-site at both Centennial Field & Red Cliff

To learn more about Salmon Festival 2008 details, check out their website


  1. lucas · September 29, 2011

    hi im lookin for a campsite durrin samon fest if you could get back to me would be great..

    thanks lucas

  2. Brett · September 29, 2011

    i was never to salmon fest before, and i was wondering how much on average does beer cost?

  3. Jake · September 29, 2011

    I was at the salmon festival last year.Great time!The drinks (6$ each)very expensive as was the food.There wasn’t much selection in beer or coolers.The line ups were insane:( and the beer ran out :(

  4. Gordon Gekko · September 29, 2011

    Why cant we actually have good concerts here in NL? I mean really by’s. Aerosmith? Cheap Trick? The last time either one of these bands put out a good song most of us weren’t even alive.

    6 dollar beer, no where to sleep, overpriced food, all the way out in the middle of nowhere, and headlining washed up bands. I think I’ll pass on this one.

    If you want to go to a good concert this summer I recommend investing in a trip to the mainland.

  5. amie · September 29, 2011

    OMG Gordon!!!Where have you been!!! Aerosmith might not have really new music but neither do the Stones-and they still pack the house!! I am going and gonna love it!!! Steven Tyler is an oldschool rocker who can put on a good show!!!!

    PS they do have an album coming out in September

  6. Jenn · September 29, 2011

    Hi, my friend and I are trying to find campground to stay at while attending the Salmon Festival. I cannot find anything!!! Redcliffe doesn’t exist on-line and I tried the toll free number on the website and it’s unaccessible from my area. Can anyone help me?

  7. amie · September 29, 2011

    Try this number: 709-489-9737 and ask for Bruce. He is a town concellor in the town of Grand Falls and explain the problem. He should be able to help. If you can’t get a hold of him then try looking for the website for the town of grand falls and get a contact number for them and call it.

    SRO Entertainment is in charge of the grounds for the concert so you could try them at 506-652-1576.

    One of those options should get you a campground!!

    Let me know how it goes!!

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