The biggest music event Brantford has ever seen is coming back to town a little richer. After a stellar turnout last year with over 9000 people in attendance, the Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament and the Hockeyfest concert is returning this June with a bigger and better show, thanks in part to a $400,000 grant its organizers recently received from Celebrate Ontario.

This year’s festivities will be divided into two themed days: on Friday June 3rd, the event is showcasing country talent and four bands are scheduled to perform. Canadian artists, Aaron Lines and Doc Walker, will hit the stage along with local Brantford band, Dry County. The country night is being headlined by international country superstar, Martina McBride.

“Having Martina perform at this event is about having big named artists that Canadians don’t see every year,” says Ralph Spoltore, the brains behind the Hockeyfest festival.

The second night of the two-day event is all about rock ‘n roll. Headlining the night is band 3 Days Grace, with support from Finger Eleven, the Trews and local band, INAMBUSH.

Spoltore is preparing for a turnout of over 8000 for the rock night event, with at least 5000 people for the country night on Friday. The event will also feature a “Hockey Village” on Saturday, where a small village will be constructed and concertgoers can drop in for a bout of street hockey. All proceeds collected from the games will be donated to Walter Gretzky’s foundation of choice.

Spoltore explains that it is “key to keep this event in Brantford. It is the home of the Gretzky’s, and the City of Brantford needs to support it. The city must be behind us so that we can put Brantford on the map.”

Looking to the future years of this event, Spoltore is hopeful that this festival will be at the same level as big city music events like Burlington’s “Sound of Music Festival” and Sarnia’s “Bayfest.” He hopes to have the same kind of turnout like the famous Havelock Jamboree where visitors come and spend the entire week in the small town of Havelock.

“I want Hockeyfest to be about bringing people to the city and let them stay and campout for the weekend and enjoy Brantford.”

Hockeyfest and the Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament will be held at Lion’s Park on June 3rd – 4th, so bring your cowboy boots, your hockey helmet and have your game face on when you take part in the event that will put the City of Brantford on the map, Hockeyfest 2011.