Disclaimer: Although I possessed a media pass for the Mile Ex End festival, all drink kiosks and food trucks were visited anonymously and paid in full.
As the number of festivals filling up Montreal summers continues to balloon, I have become more selective when picking those I deem worth my time. And while some have expanded in size, price and annoyance factor, others are less overwhelming in scale and still in their infancy. Enter Mile Ex End; the aptly-dubbed "le plus petit des grands festivals" was back this Labor Day weekend for a third edition.
The event's peculiar setting beneath the Rosemont-Van Horne overpass – which makes great use of dead space – makes it quite easy to reach. Situated in a low-traffic zone along the Mile-End/Mile-Ex border, steps away from the Rosemont subway station, the site is accessible to both automobilists and métro users. Myself, I decided to wrap up the festival season with my second Mile Ex End visit on this sunny, late-summer Sunday afternoon.
The setup consists of two stages separated by green space featuring a rest area with benches, a kids playground and a couple of activity booths. Dining amenities include a handful of food trucks, an Oshlag beer kiosk, a Ubisoft bar serving Quebec wines, gin, vodka and ciders as well as a dining area with an abundance of picnic tables.
A large part of the site – including one of the stages – lies directly under the overpass, which conveniently acts as both a shield from the sun or an umbrella in case of rain. Acts are largely local as well, as the ones I caught – Alaclair Ensemble, Zach Zoya and Chromeo – all hail from Montreal itself. The same can be said of the attendees, which counted several families, making the whole affair feel like a close-knit neighborhood block party; busy but not overcrowded.
Hungry festivalgoers will find an array of choices to feed their hole. Meat slingers Le Burger and Schnitzel Trucks are found next to seafood purveyors Paella Marisol and Ô Sœurs du Lac, with Mi Corazon dishing out Mexican fare and finally Mignon and Gaufrabec hitting the sweet spot. We went for a taco, a burrito and a couple of burgers, all of which satisfied and recharged us in between band sets.
In terms of sheer organization, Mile Ex End may just be the smoothest festival in town. There are simply no lineups anywhere, including at the entrance, drink kiosks, food trucks or porta-potties. One also need not battle the crowds to get a good spot to watch the musicians or find a free picnic bench. Which is not to say the turnout is poor. When the headliners hit the stage, one gets a feel for the human mass on site; but it is well distributed across the available space.
When compared to Osheaga, the city's largest music festival, Mile Ex End sure has less star power. However, it makes up for that with a much smaller corporate presence, lack of tourists and lower price point - $44 per day or $80 for a four-day passport. From the Montreal acts and crowd to the Quebec beer and spirits – but diverse food offering – this fest is clearly "by locals, for locals".
Price per person: $22.50
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.