They say good things come to those who wait. The thousands of motorists who drove the Sea to Sky Highway en route to the Live at Squamish music festival on Saturday (Aug. 25) can certainly attest to that.
Despite a several-hour delay following a two-car accident near Lions Bay, festival go-ers eventually arrived in Squamish with festival spirit still intact.
“I think we were stuck on the highway for about four hours,” said Shawn Kirkpatrick, who made the trek from Bellingham, Wash. “It was a little frustrating, but it felt really good to finally get here.”
Linda Hobbs, Kirkpatrick’s girlfriend, said it was the second year in a row that the couple took in the festival.
“We just love the whole atmosphere, the whole vibe,” she said, noting that the pair was drawn by Sunday’s headline act, City and Colour. “It’s the most beautiful setting and everyone is so friendly and just here to have fun.”
It’s exactly the type of image that the festival’s executive producer Paul Runnals wants to put forth. Runnals said he was pleased with how the weekend came together.
“It was a great year despite some of the issues we obviously had on Saturday with all the traffic arriving at once,” he said. “It was a bit overwhelming, but there’s nothing we could do about it. Everyone kept their cool and had a great night.”
Runnals pointed out that attendees were generally well behaved. Four people were kicked out of the venue on Saturday for intoxication. As well, two young Squamish residents were caught trying to break into the venue late Thursday (Aug. 23) and removed. Though festival officials called the youths’ actions “disrespectful,” they opted not to press charges.
RCMP officers described the number of calls to police related to the festival, given the number of people who attended, as “relatively low,” RCMP Sgt. Wayne Pride wrote in a statement issued on Monday (Aug. 27). He said most of the festival-related calls were for “liquor-related situations and unfortunately, an unacceptable amount involving drinking and driving.”
“Police would like to thank the promoters, security and other event staff for a well-run event,” Pride wrote.
Runnals said the artists seem to love coming to Squamish.
“We got amazing feedback from the artists,” he said. “Everybody was blown away by the weather, the vibe and the setting. The fans just had a festival energy all weekend and the artists really picked up on it. They couldn’t say enough good things about our festival.”
According to Runnals, 3,500 people took in the opening night on Friday (Aug. 24), with just under 11,000 in attendance on Saturday and approximately 8,600 on Sunday (Aug. 26). The three-day total of over 23,000 was up from last year’s 16,600 and 2010’s 14,000. The increase amounts to a 39 per cent hike in ticket sales compared to the 2011 festival.
Runnals said it was more difficult to find lowlights on the weekend. Several artists putting together memorable sets.
“Charles Bradley on Saturday afternoon was just phenomenal and he blew the crowd away,” he said. “And the Motown Tribute to Nickelback was another great performance. Those guys are awesome. The City and Colour piece sounded unbelievably good and had a perfect setting to close the festival and of course, the Hip always deliver. It was a lot of fun.”
He said his group is not planning to make major changes for 2013 but will look at evolving the camping aspect of the festival. Runnals said on-site camping was sold out and organizers may look at expanding that aspect because of the high demand.
Earlier this year, Live at Squamish signed a five-year extension with the District of Squamish so expect the Loggers Sports Grounds to continue rocking until at least 2017.
“We’ve locked in that part of the deal and we’re looking to continue to evolve and develop this festival,” Runnals said.