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ROOTSandBLUES: Festive atmosphere worthy of the festival’s 30th anniversary

By Barb Brouwer


“Love it,” shouted MainStage’s Tom Cochrane on Friday night.

And thousands of ROOTSandBLUES customers responded with thunderous applause.

Members of the public stretching out to the food court and between the beer garden and the west fence were well ahead of Cochrane’s advice to enjoy life.

“I have attended many festivals over the years and this one was so joyful and happy,” said Salmon Arm Folk Music Society board chair Kimm Magill-Hofmann, praising staff, volunteers and patrons. “The whole festival had such a party atmosphere.”

And there was plenty for the company to celebrate as the 30th anniversary festival drew 30,944 people, surpassing numbers from the last live festival in 2019.

For the first time, entrance and beer garden tickets were only available with credit or debit cards. Festival sales exceeded expectations and caused a run on beer garden ticket machines, which was remedied on Saturday with a third machine.

Higher attendance also created a crowd on the barn stage, again, which Magill-Hofmann says can also be easily solved for future festivals.

She expressed her gratitude to Harry Manx, who stood in for Colin Linden, and George Leach, who stood in for Cedric Burnside when the two artists were unable to attend.

Executive Director David Gonella praised for setting the standard for having a fantastic festival and leading the team to this huge success, as did Artistic Director Kevin Tobin for his first ROOTSandBLUES festival. Credit was also given to the dedicated volunteers, who put in many overtime hours due to a drop in volunteer numbers.

Salmon Arm Security also received a grateful nod.

“Security was very good this year,” she said. “I’ve seen them fix problems, not letting people with cups out of outdoor cafes, checking people’s bags and being friendly and helpful.”

The security company also received a commendation from Salmon Arm RCMP Master Sergeant. Scott West, who said they did a “tremendous job”.

“It went very well given that our population almost more than doubled over the weekend,” he said, noting that police had more to deal with in the outlying areas of the city than with everything attributable to the festival. “There were very few issues with regard to police investigations.”

West called the festival a big event and said members of the detachment want to be visible at community events, not necessarily as law enforcement.

“We want to be a visual presence so people feel safe, and if there are any issues, they know we’re here to fix them,” he said. “If it could happen more often, we would just be part of the crowd – unless we were called upon to act.”

Exhausted but motivated like most people who attended the festival, Tobin felt good, praised Gonella and said he doesn’t think most people understand the amount of work it takes to present. such a world class event.

“You can’t put something like this together without community support,” he said, noting there were many unknowns after two years of Covid and online festivals. “The festival has great bones and a great model to continue to build on and make the festival experience even better.”

Participants moved and danced to the varied music emanating from four stages between noon and late at night at the MainStage and Barn Stage.

Cochrane and Jann Arden drew massive crowds, as did fan favorites Five Alarm Funk, whose incredible musicianship combined with hilarious vocals and antics for delighted audiences.

Vendors did well with some food vendors on the verge of running out of food and despite the hot and humid weather customers were relaxed and more than ready for the experience.

“The entire board is just thrilled with what, to many, feels like a family reunion,” Magill-Hofmann said. “The majority of people come from out of town and have found the festival to be one of the treasures of Shuswap.”

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Roots and Blues Festival Salmon Arm