Wapiti has grown faster than expected, according to organizer Kevin McIsaac.
The music festival was held for the third year running on August 9 and 10, and, according to Kevin McIsaac, was a “very big success.” Ten Canadian bands performed this year.
“Things have gone better, faster than we had hoped,” he said. “We’re a non-profit group, so we’re not concerned about making money, but we are concerned about losing it.
“As it stands now, we are in the position we hoped to be in by next year, where we have some money in the bank so we can start preparing for next year already.”
McIsaac said that the first year of the festival, he used his own credit card to book bands and equipment.
This year, 2,051 people attended the festival. 1,500 of them paid, 300 got in free (children and seniors) and the rest were volunteers or band members.
About half of the people who attended were from outside the Elk Valley, which McIsaac said was great for business. He also conducted a survey following this year’s festival, asking local businesses how the festival affected them. He said 40 per cent of the businesses rated the effect as “very positive.” He also said that the bands all commented on how great the location is.
McIsaac did say that there were some challenges this year, particularly the weather.
“We were worried for a little while when we could see lightning flashes and it was getting closer. If it had got any closer we were ready to cancel. Luckily it passed by.”
McIsaac also had to deal with the Annex Park flooding a month before the festival. Luckily, City staff had recovered the park in time for the event.
“We have no indoor facility that can hold 2,000 people. So if the weather is bad, people just won’t come and sit in the rain. That’s why pre-sales are so important to us.”
He said he was really happy that every volunteer said they would do it again next year, because the festival relied on them. He hoped more out-of-towners would volunteer next year too.
“An old expression goes ‘If you do it once it’s luck, twice it’s coincidence, and the third time it’s the real deal,’” said McIsaac. “Well I think we have the real deal.”