Arturo Palomera, who lives in Seattle, has been coming to the festival for seven years with his wife Leticia and their friend Petrine Paquette from Vernon. They love the festival but some spots are difficult for Arturo, who uses a wheelchair. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Roots and Blues gets great reviews plus accessibility suggestions

Festivalgoers love music, atmosphere, volunteers but some areas tough for wheelchairs

A good time was had by all who the Observer spoke to at the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival over the weekend.

However, suggestions were made on improving accessibility.

Arturo Palomera, who lives in Seattle, has been coming to the festival for seven years with his wife Leticia and their friend Petrine Paquette.

Paquette lives in Vernon and she told them about it. They’ve all been attending together since.

“I like the energy of the people, the music is great, and the food,” Arturo says.

The three name a few of their favourite performers from Friday and Saturday at this year’s festival. They include Anne Lindsay, Jim Cuddy and Ruthie Foster.

At the time of the interview, Arturo is sitting in a wheelchair off to the side of the entrance to the Barn Stage. Asked about accessibility, he said it’s good. However, as he talks more about it, he mentions room for improvement.

Really soft gravel at the entrance to the grounds is tough to wheel through, he says.

The same with the ground-level Engage Stage area where the couches are, he adds. He couldn’t get to a couch as wheelchairs get stuck in the sand surrounding it.

Read more: Experience in wheelchair opens eyes to access concerns

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Read more: 2015 – Access an issue at grandstand

Regarding the music performances, Arturo suggested assigning a small spot for wheelchairs.

“I feel they always have to go way in the back.”

And, he adds, “There’s no free food!” and then bursts out laughing at his tongue-in-cheek complaint.

“Otherwise it’s really good, they’re nice people,” he says, back to being serious.

Sharon Andrews from Rocky Mountain House, Alta. has been coming to the festival for four years.

“The first time, we went on a road trip and decided to come to Salmon Arm. We got lucky and were able to get a hotel room and we discovered Roots and Blues.”

She said it’s been pretty good. It’s different every year, so doesn’t get boring.

This year, a couple of her favourites were Sue Foley and Jim Cuddy.

Will she be back next year?

Probably, she said, as she has a campground to stay at in the area now.

Rylan Ward, who was watching his young son play in a sand pile at the festival, says his family comes up from Surrey. His wife’s mom is Sue Ackerman, a long-time Salmon Arm resident.

He surmises they’ve been coming to the festival for six or seven years now.

“You guys live in a wonderful part of the province; it’s a beautiful place,” he says, and the festival is great.

One of his favourite performances?

Dervish. At the Barn Stage, the perfect location.

“There’s sandcastles, a beer garden and you can listen to good music. And they have hammocks. That’s our favourite part.”

Read more: In photos – the 27th Annual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival

Teresa Maier from Kamloops, who was waiting in a hot chocolate line-up at the festival with almost-five-year-old Olivia Hughes, says her family has been coming to the festival every year for the past 14 years.

“All my aunts come every year and they live all over the place,” she said, explaining that includes Vancouver and Penticton, with one who lives in Salmon Arm. “And they’re over 70 now.”

She says she started coming with Olivia three years ago, once the little girl was old enough to enjoy it.

Clutching the group’s CD, Olivia says the Hamiltones are her favourite.

Maier agrees. “It was awesome,” she says of their performance.

She and Olivia will definitely be coming back next year.

Martha


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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