Canadian Big Band Celebration 2023 all set to go

In less than a month, it will be time for the annual Canadian Big Band Celebration 2023, a weekend when Southampton and Port Elgin venues will be filled with music and dance.

The first Canadian Big Band Celebration (CBBC) was held on Saturday, September 23, 1995 at the UNIFOR (formerly CAW) Family Education Centre Main Assembly Hall located in the beautiful Lake Huron community of Saugeen Shores, encompassing Port Elgin and Southampton Ontario.

Prior to the first Canadian Big Band Celebration event in Saugeen Shores, the local Stardust Big Band had been participating for a few years in Thornbury’s annual Canadian Big Band Dance Festival, which was established by Georgian Sound Big Band leader clarinetist/saxophonist Bob Cringan, a retired music educator from Toronto.

“The success and popularity of the Thornbury event prompted Stardust bandleader Charlie Bell and lead trumpeter in the band, Wayne McGrath, to investigate the possibility of bringing a similar big band festival to Saugeen Shores. In 1994 Charlie and Wayne began discussing the idea of bringing a similar festival to the area with Family Education Centre manager Ken Oulette and Chamber of Commerce manager Connie Barker. Connie was enthused about the plan to bring musicians, music lovers and dancers to the community and Ken thought having the event out at the CAW complex was “worth a try” … and the rest, as they say, is history.

This year’s Celebration begins Thursday night, September 14th, when a night with Guy Lombardo is relived with ‘The Night Guy Came to Town’.  The interactive event takes a step back in time to 1935 inspired by the Knowles family of Southampton and the Southampton Embassy Dance Pavilion.

Everyone is invited to dance the night away to the music of the famous band leader, played by Drew Jurecka, and meet the play’s actors, the Southampton descendants of the 1935 families.


The next night, Friday September 15th, is Jazz & Blues Night with seven shows at seven different venues in Southampton and Port Elgin, featuring a wide variety of musical genres.  A $25 passport provides not only access to all the venues but also a FREE shuttle service.

Then Saturday, September 16th at 2PM, begins Big Dance day at Lakeshore Recreation Centre in Port Elgin with two unique shows, afternoon and evening.  The afternoon show features the ever-popular Lulus Band with the Men in Black Brass playing all the tunes from the last 50 years.  From the Beatles to Santana, Downchild to Chicago, it’s time to rock the afternoon away.

At 7PM, the music starts again featuring the incredible young musicians of the SDSS Royals Big Band, followed by the Canadian Big Band with vocalist Sonja Gustafson and the big band sound that will have everyone on the dance floor.

To round off the weekend, it’s time to enjoy a delicious brunch served up by Tim and Sarah’s Catering (Green Door) at 11:30AM with a generous helping of Dixieland Jazz by the Midnight Ramblers at Southampton Golf & Country Club’s Hampton Hall.

Over the years since 1995 and as it is today, it is thanks to a dedicated and hard working committee and the many generous sponsors from the Saugeen Shores business community that the Canadian Big Band Celebration continues to be a success.

What better way to end the summer than with the sounds of music all weekend long. Order your tickets now for the Canadian Big Band Celebration 2023.