COURTENAY, B.C. – Call it a kinder, gentler music festival.
Don’t expect this weekend’s Vancouver Island MusicFest at the Comox Valley Exhibition grounds to be “wild and crazy” predicts Susan Wood, the festival’s marketing manager.
“We really don’t attract people who make trouble,” Wood said. “People have a lot of fun. They’re very respectful of each other, of the community, and (of) the notion (of MusicFest).”
The lineup of artists suggests this will be three days packed full of melodic tunes that the whole family can enjoy.
“It is unique in that it really is a family,” Wood said. “People come back year after year to reacquaint themselves with the wonderful friends that they make over the year. It’s a family festival and we encourage families to enjoy it.”
MusicFest’s origins date back to 1995 and what followed have been 23 years of “sensational” festivals, Wood said.
“The support from the community for those decades has been remarkable and continues to be,” she added.
The site has a capacity of 10,000 visitors, so MusicFest is as big as it can possibly be because Wood notes that the festival, not surprisingly, has sold out.
This weekend boasts an impressive lineup of artists featuring headliners Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Ry Cooder featuring the Hamiltones, and Arlo Guthrie.
“It just goes on and on and on,” Wood said. “There’s been years when we’ve had k.d. lang… the list is very long and very celebrated and we’re very lucky because we’re a very small festival by festival standards, and that’s what these performers like about it. They come because it is a unique environment, beautifully set and in the forests of the Comox Valley.”
If you hope to get a last-minute camping spot, you’ll be out of luck.
“Camping sold out months ago,” Wood said. “We provide volunteer camping sites and lots and lots of families come and enjoy the on-site experience and stay for the whole weekend.”
The lifeblood of MusicFest is its volunteers, and longevity has opened the doors for the next generation of helpers to step up as the years pass.
“Our volunteers have come back year after year,” Wood said. “We have volunteers who brought their 18-month-old babies to the first festival they came to, and now those babies are volunteering for the festival. It’s a great legacy.”
Wood said as other organizations struggle for support, MusicFest has almost 1,400 volunteers eager to step up every year to make the festival happen.
Currently there are roughly 220 volunteers putting the site together, Wood noted, so that by 3 p.m. Friday the gates will open and MusicFest can get underway.
Ticket sales are going “very well,” according to Wood, but there are still some available.
“Tickets are full pop price now,” Wood said. “Slowpoke tickets are all gone. Weekend passes are available and day passes are available.”
Opening ceremonies are at 4 p.m. Friday.
For tickets, the lineup of artists, performance schedules, and more information, visit www.islandmusicfest.com.