In spite of low attendance, the recent Sylvia’s Music Festival was, as usual, a really great show.
Fortunately, the weatherman was wrong and the rains pretty much held off each night until the last chord was played.
Sylvia’s yearly showcase of excellent local talent renders out-of-town headliners almost unnecessary. Sunday’s final act, the Correlieu Jazz Band, was indeed worth sticking around for.
I really don’t think the people of Quesnel and area, other than the loyal regulars, really appreciate what a gem of an event we have right here in our back yard with Sylvia’s Music Festival. With the demise of the Salmon Valley Music Festival and the loss this year of the Merritt Mountain Festival, summertime music festivals are becoming a threatened species.
And it is not just music festivals. Forty years ago when we started Billy Barker Days, I recall our desire to grow to emulate big festivals like the Kelowna Regatta, Prince George Mardi Gras and Kamloops Spoolmak Days. (Spoolmak? That’s Kamloops spelled backwards.)
Fast forward 40 years and guess what… those big festivals that we envied are no more, but BB Days has endured!
Why? Because so many of Quesnel’s happenings are fueled by a fiercely relentless community spirit, complimented by repetitively generous corporate sponsors, armies of dedicated volunteers that keep giving year after year and most importantly, the people who pay their nickel to support and enjoy these events.
But I’m worried. If it wasn’t for the fact that next year’s Sylvia’s Music Festival will the tenth annual, I sense it may not happen.
What about other community events like Billy Barker Days, Sky Fest, Quesnel Rodeo, Artswells, and others? Remember The Cariboo Highland Games? Long gone. Our Fall Fair? No more. Community events like these are fragile and vulnerable.
Imagine them as a three legged stool. One leg is the volunteers, another is sponsors and the third, paying participants. We can’t have one without the other two.
Volunteers and sponsors need to be recruited, retained and rewarded.
Paying participants must be given their money’s worth so they will come back again next year… with their friends.
With Canada Day, Billy Barker Days, B.C.’s largest amateur rodeo, Artswells, Sky Fest, the B.C. Team Roping Finals and the B.C. Rodeo Finals all coming up, let’s get off the couch and recognize and reward those hard working volunteers and sponsors as paying participants.