Was launched in 1971 featuring the first "original art only" event, held outdoors on the grounds of the formosa spring brewery in Barrie. The success of that first show was the result of a year of planning by Raymond Marshall and a handful of Barrie Art Club members. The show was juried and open to both members and non art club members.
Raymond Marshall as it happened, was both a Barrie Art Club member and member of the Kiwanis Club of Barrie. Enthusiastic to produce a quality art show, Raymond and his entourage travelled around the country attending other events and collecting information from show organizers. Raymond co-ordinated all aspects of the event and art club volunteers assisted with advertising, promotion and creation of an application form.
Approximately 20 artists were accepted to display their works. Paintings were conveniently hung on readily available snow fencing that Civic holiday in August 1971. 37 years later, a few of those who first participated are still avid painters and active Barrie Art Club members.
By 1975 the show was a proven success and had outgrown its original home. On an invitation from the City of Barrie it was moved to Centennial Beach and the entire waterfront was to become its present location. The Kiwanis Club had joined forces to co-sponsor the event and add food to its venue. Between the two clubs it was also decided to invite "crafters" to show & sell their wares. Other community service clubs recognizing the fund raising possibilities also joined in. Food booths, entertainment, midway, beverage gardens and other facilities were added and the show was soon bursting at its seams.
While each sub-group was responsible for their separate venue they shared a common goal - to ensure the event's success! A board was then formed to include a "hands on" representative from each club. They named this governing body, Kempenfest.