As a pioneering organic farm, Shazam Farm has always been a place
where new ideas are shared, discussed, and often put to the test. It’s an
environment where people of various cultures come to visit, exchange,
work, or hang out, play music and experience country living at its best.
Shazam Farm is also home to one of Canada’s most eclectic and original
summer festivals: ShazamFest, was born in 2006 under the direction of
Ziv Przytyk with the help of his brother Sasha.
From a mixed Polish/Canadian background, the young Przytyks grew up
on this family farm tucked in the hills of the Eastern Townships, a
beautiful area rich in both official cultures. Growing small crops and
selling produce at the local market were part of their summer activities;
early ventures included growing a variety of vegetables, berries, and herbs,
not to mention blue potatoes. Later, both brothers left to study and work
in far-off places including Western Canada and Poland, returning
whenever possible to visit their close-knit family.
While abroad, the brothers became increasingly active musically as Deejays and promoters, picking up on artists and trends, all the while pursuing other careers in agriculture. However, their hearts remained in the Townships of Quebec – as both brothers eventually returned to the area, in rapid succession, complete with their own young families and worldly experiences. They had no trouble picking up where they left off in the community, having a new appreciation for the area, but they had a new ambition: to cultivate culture itself… or specifically, to throw a really good party.
The idea was to create a festival that would showcase local and international talent, while including a wide variety of original musical and theatrical acts; an event where people of all ages could come to enjoy a weekend of music and circus in a lively outdoor setting. The family farm was a hands-down choice for the future festival’s location, not least because of its hidden jewel: an idyllic natural area within a short hike of the homestead, now simply known as The Site.
Discover the Festival Site
As you walk down the tree-lined path from the camping area and suddenly find yourself descending into the hidden clearing that host our gathering, you’ll realize that this unique site is an integral part of the whole experience. A lush hidden valley bounded by woods, a brook and natural springs, the festival site has evolved into a tiny village over the past four years, thanks to the help of numerous volunteers. Using local materials and sweat, several seasonal structures were erected: the massive Main Stage, rustic Shazam
Bar-Saloon including a smaller second stage, a gourmet Organic Kitchen, and the Shazam Burger hut, all plugged into the site’s spring water system, on tap for your free enjoyment.
Since our family relocated to Shazam Farm in the early 1980s, we have used this site variously as a venue for soccer games, tepee camping, summer parties and even small concerts. But the festival site at Shazam Farm has an interesting history of its own that begins long before our era. This wonderful natural amphitheater bordering the Niger river on a corner of the farm was in fact used by the area’s First Nations peoples long ago.
Reviving a Lost Tradition – and Starting New Ones
An Abenaki elder once visited Shazam Farm and taught us that this same location was used as a summer gathering place by generations of his people. This was a place where several ancient footpaths intersected. Of course this revelation made a lot of sense to us, now more than ever. We would like to honour this old tradition of crossing paths, as we gather with friends both old and new to camp out, feast and enjoy an open-air musical and visual extravaganza.
Shazam Farm’s vision of biodiversity dictates that our event be run in a sustainable manner, making use of locally available food and resources, in a cooperative effort to generate little waste and keep the site and its surroundings unspoiled for future gatherings. In fact, we believe that far from alienating our neighbours and community, an event like ShazamFest can really benefit the area by promoting local foods and businesses as well as home-grown talent and new performing artists.
Consider yourself invited!
-The Shazam Tribe