By Barb Brouwer
The stage is almost set for the 27th annual Roots and Blues Festival.
Hammers are swinging, new picnic tables are being stained and the large green grass of the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds is being coloured by bright tents.
Inside the Roots and Blues office, staff and volunteers are putting the final touches on a festival that aims to provide the best possible experience for everyone involved.
Artistic director Peter North and artist liaison Tori Jewell are relaxed and ready for the festival that began Tuesday with super crawl concerts at several area venues.
“Things are going smoothly for an equation of this size,” says North, noting that for many of the performers, Roots and Blues is the last of a long and often tiring tour, tours in which many of this year’s artists have wowed audiences. “The Hamiltones drew rave reviews in Edmonton, Vancouver and Vancouver Island and Irish Mythen got a standing ovation in the middle of her set.”
Whether at the end of a tour or not, Jewell makes sure artists get a warm welcome and are well looked after.
“I’ve got really good volunteers on the frontline,” she says. “Without them, my job would not be possible.”
While there are no major changes to the site this year, executive-director David Gonella says there have been a couple of additions with comfort in mind.
“The shade stage will have a ginormous tent and, with coverage at the blues and barn stage, people should be able to be dry,” Gonella says. “We always rely on our volunteers; the festival starts and ends with their commitment to having the great event we expect it to be.”
Food vendors and the artisan market will feature a mix of new and longtime favourites. The Hub International Family Fun Zone will offer interactive entertainment for all ages and is located next to the wine bar.
A composting, recycling and garbage program initiated last year diverted an enormous amount of material from the landfill. Again this year, no single-use plastic water bottles will be sold but several water stations will be available for patrons to fill their own bottles.
Media and communications co-ordinator Mico Miege-Moffat says a new grant has allowed organizers to roll out a marketing plan that has extended the festival’s reach.
“We have had phone calls from places we don’t usually have and we’re getting a lot of first-time people calling, asking where do we camp, how close are we to the lake?” says Miege-Moffat. “It’s exciting having these conversations, and local tourism (organizations) have had lots of questions too.”
The super crawl ramps up Thursday with Al Lerman & Brent Parkin followed by the Ghost Notes beginning at 6 p.m. at the legion; Sean Ashby and Early spirit beginning at 5:30 at Shuswap Theatre, Jenie Thai at 6:45 at the Barley Station Brew Pub; Josh + Bex at 5:30 at the Shuswap Pie Company and Jamie Carlon Smith and DJ Kingkongfinger at 7 p.m. at Marionette Winery.
For more information, call 250-833-4096 or go online to rootsandblues.ca.