Head bangers unite

Get ready for Western Canada’s largest heavy metal festival in Armstrong this weekend.

  • Jul. 16, 2014 3:00 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday, Armstrong’s  Hassen Arena once again plays host to the infamous music festival, Armstrong Metalfest.

Started in 2009, the festival originally welcomed 300 people onto a farm outside of Armstrong with the goal of promoting local music.

The first concert saw 11 bands performing on flat-deck trailers, and advertising was done simply by word of mouth.

In only six years, Armstrong Metalfest has become the largest and longest running metal festival in Western Canada. The festival has long since left the farm and has found a home at Armstrong’s Hassen Memorial Arena for the music, with other activities at the Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE) grounds.

Equipped with warm showers and RV camping, the grounds have become a temporary home for hordes of metal heads every July. Previous years have seen constantly growing attendance, with each year drawing more and more music enthusiasts into Armstrong.

Despite stereotypes associated with heavy metal, the festival has been praised by locals and the RCMP for the good behaviour and friendliness of attendees, say festival organizers.

Even though Armstrong Metalfest has welcomed bands from all over the world, the festival has continued with its goal of gaining exposure for local musicians.

Thirty-six bands are confirmed this year, with local talents such as Xul and Putrid Brew, both of Vernon, and Armstrong’s Odinfist performing alongside headliners such as Montreal death metal giants Cryptopsy, Vancouver’s heavy riffers Anciients and thrash metal act Nylithia, also from Vancouver.

Festival goers can take a break from head banging by enjoying the festival’s many other attractions, including thrash wrestling, a beer garden and a beer helmet march at the IPE grounds. A cooling station and farmer’s market (Saturday morning only), as well as food and merchandise booths, will also be open.

Attendees will also be able to experience the beauty of Armstrong and its hospitable businesses.

Two-day passes for Armstrong Metalfest are $100 and can be purchased locally at the Rock and Smoke Shop on 30th Avenue in Vernon. Day passes ($60) can be purchased at the gate. More information is available at www.ArmstrongMetalFest.ca.