Crawl kicks off Roots & Blues

Smoke, fire situation the big question mark for organizers

Some might think the Roots &Blues Festival is a weekend event, but things are already in full swing with the festival’s Super Crawl going on now.

Following up on Tuesday’s concerts at Askew’s Uptown and The Treehouse Bistro, Wednesday will see Twin Peaks perform at Wednesday on the Wharf, followed by an Thursday evening filled with music with a host of community concerts at venues around the city. See our Calendar of Events on page A27 for more details.

“Thursday is a really full, fun evening,” says David Gonella, festival director, “you might have noticed we sort of snuck that extra day on because it really is a way for the community and visitors to gear up and sample some things.”

While many of these performances are free, the main gate opens at 7 p.m., with the Jack Daniel’s Barn Stage concert being free for members of the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society or $20 at the door for non-members.

With the weather forecast looking sunny and promising, organizers are hopeful it will drive gate tickets sales for this year’s festival to new heights. Smoke has been a bit of a stumbling block for this year’s 25th annual event.

“Back in June our ticket pre-sales were going so well, we thought we could be on target for record-breaking sales, but the smoke, and the message that B.C. was on fire in early July, it did curtail the momentum we had,” says Gonella.

“We are hoping to really get the message out there that the gates are going to be open and we are still a great place to be. The smoke, the weather have been so variable, but that is out of our control. That’s what you have to accept when you have an outdoor festival,” he adds.

With the smoke affecting much of the province, Gonella says they are also still seeing plenty of interested in people from the Lower Mainland coming up for a weekend.

“People within the province have a better grasp of the distances and that we are not on fire in the Shuswap directly.”

The extreme fire hazard will be emphasized to patrons, with signage warning of the tinder dry conditions. There are going to be designated smoking areas and there will be warnings in the campgrounds to be extra cautious with any lit items.

Once again, patron comfort is a high priority, with additional shade spaces being added to the site, along with the now-iconic, hanging blue jeans at the Blues Stage.

Audience members should be prepared for enforcement of some festival rules including a provision for low, festival chairs in certain areas, with the higher height chairs being required to sit further back from the stage.

“We want to try and deliver a good viewing experience as much as possible, so this means keeping to the rules,” says Gonella.

There will also be new offerings for beverages, including the addition of craft beer products from B.C. like Red Truck, BC Brewing Co. and Stanley Park, as well as wine tasting and sampling of B.C. wine products. There will also be a Mott’s lounge for those with a taste for Caesars.