The announcement of a Pemberton music festival slated to take place three weeks before Squamish's largest festival doesn't faze organizers of the local event.
On Wednesday (Sept. 25), New Orleans-based concert promoter Huka Entertainment was unveiled a plan to host a music festival in the Spud Valley. The bash is to occur in mid-July, three weeks before the Squamish Valley Music Festival (SVMF) on the second weekend in August.
It's not going to change plans for Squamish, said Live Nation and brand.LIVE officials.
“Will it affect us? It might, but we will affect them,” said Paul Runnals, brand.LIVE executive producer of SVMF.
In 2008, Live Nation hosted the Pemberton Festival, attracting 40,000 music fans up Highway 99. Last year, the Agricultural Land Commission approved a memorandum of understanding with the Village of Pemberton and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District that opened the door to Huka. A previous agreement governing the festival site stipulated that only Live Nation was permitted to use the grounds.
Although the red tape has been cleared, other challenges remain, Runnals said. Live Nation eyed the Pemberton property for several years, but chose not to return. The area presents a technical nightmare, he said. Most of the event's equipment and goods were hauled into Pemberton, accumulating big bills. Although beautiful, the town is a long way up the Sea to Sky Highway, Runnals said.
“The traffic was an absolute disaster,” he said. “Transportation was a massive issue.”
Huka Entertainment produces large-scale music festivals in the United States. This year's Hangout Music Festival, which is held in Alabama each May, featured Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stevie Wonder and Kings of Leon. In 2012, the headliners at Hangout included the Dave Mathews Band and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In announcing the Pemberton Festival on Wednesday, Huka officials did not announce any of the bands that will perform but said the caliber will be similar to those that played at the Hangout festival.
“It will be interesting to see what they do with it,” Runnals said.
For the past five weeks Runnals has been booking artists for the 2014 SVMF. He didn't reveal any of the performers, but added, “The acts we are talking to are at the top of the festival circuit.”
District of Squamish staff is compiling a report regarding the logistics and economic benefits of this year's festival, municipal spokesperson Christina Moore said, noting that ironing out traffic issues is at the top of people's minds. The report should be before council next month.
— With files from Eric MacKenzie, Whistler Question