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Letter: Massive reality check needed after ROOTSandBLUES Festival

Writer questions decisions that put people at risk
Carrying their festival chairs on their backs, these people were among many leaving the 2023 ROOTSandBlues Festival site Saturday morning, Aug. 19, after it was cancelled. (Martha Wickett photo)

The past weekend taught many of us lessons in emergency preparedness, sadly our governments and ROOTSandBLUES Festival organizers missed the chance to act in the safety interests of many in the region and some of the very artists coming to play the event.

Long before the power went out, my friends were watching the firestorm blow over the highway and were calling for help to remove items from their homes in Sorrento. Sadly, at the same time a friend was driving up to play the festival, travelling through the flames to do so. The video of that drive is nuts.

As an ex-touring band employee, I’m openly disgusted that ROOTSandBLUES and governments (BC Ministry of Public Safety?) made choices which placed many directly in harm’s way, and also caused much duress for evacuees!

Never in my entertainment business career would I have ever condoned having talent drive through a firestorm to make an event. Shame, a rank amateur choice, one which should never be left in the hands it was again.

No event is worth endangering the public or employees. CSRD, BC Wildfire, BC Ministry of Public Safety and ROOTSandBLUES boards all require sober second thoughts and a massive reset of priorities. Deaths at or en route to events have happened before – a surefire end to your event is guaranteed then!

At 3 p.m. Friday on social media I was warning folk to stay away. Even though my friends driving up to play R&B saw it, they came anyways, a choice they regret, a choice which should result in a massive correction in direction by many who failed to have the safety of others on their minds to the degree required when holding a public event!

Randy Isaak

Read more: RCMP condemn self-declared convoy that wanted past Shuswap wildfire blockade

Read more: Letter: Will we act for future generations?
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