It’s a festival that started from a chat over wine and cheese among Squamish Arts Council members a couple of years ago, and blossomed into three days of free community events last summer. This July, it’s set to grow again.
The second annual Squamish Wind Festival will again combine local art, food, and music with wind and water sports. On the waters of Howe Sound, there will be the sailboat racing of the 35th Squamish Open Annual Regatta, hosted by the Squamish Yacht Club.
Among the new features of the festival this year, the Sea to Sky Gondola has come on board as a sponsor and will be hosting a band at the top of the gondola in one of only two events at this year’s festival that has a cost associated with it, according to Michelle Neilson, festival coordinator.
The other new and ticketed event is a performance of Peter Pan, presented by the Squamish Academy of Music.
The rest of the family-friendly festival is free.
This year, volunteers from not-for-profits will lead guided tours from the Squamish Adventure Centre up to the main stage downtown.
“The idea is you are increasing pedestrian traffic into town, instead of cars, and you are giving people an opportunity to walk alongside someone who has lived here a while and they have got some great stories to tell, both from their own life and from the perspective of [their group],” she said.
Another new feature to this year’s festival will be a family movie in the park on the Saturday night. “We are being very hush-hush about the movie name, we will reveal that when we get closer,” Neilson said.
Also, this year the concert in the park will be extended to two days from one.
“One of the things that really worked for us was the music. Having a concert in the park for free, and a pretty amazing lineup all weekend, you can’t go wrong,” she said.
The art show will also be expanded to showcase more works in an artisans’ market.
There will be even more for the youngest festival attendees to take in this year.
A textile art installation in the trees near the kid zone will be commissioned as well, and a “wind-fairy” will make an appearance.
Local artist Jolly Roger has created unique drawings that will be on display.
The Squamish Arts Council and BC Arts Council produce the festival with support from the Squamish Yacht Club, Tourism Squamish, the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association, plus local sponsors and many community groups, according to Neilson.
Last year’s inaugural festival drew 3,000 attendees. This year, organizers are hoping to draw 6,000.
“I would like to see it eventually become the annual festival event that everybody looks forward to,” said Neilson. “We have so many different events coming to Squamish, but most of them are ticketed and to have that one go-to festival that we look forward to as a community, that we can build out on and give everybody an opportunity to shine and brings our community together.”
This year’s festival blows in from July 24-26.
For more information go to www.squamishwindfestival.com.