Bluegrass Festival takes a break

What would have been the tenth staging of a consistently popular festival will not be happening at Sooke Flats on the the Fathers’ Day weekend.

The Sooke Bluegrass Festival is taking a breather this year. So many amazing musicians performed at the Sooke Flats festival over the years. The Sooke River Bluegrass Festival Society will continue to function and support local bluegrass and is actively seeking new venue possibilities for future events.

What would have been the tenth staging of a consistently popular festival will not be happening at Sooke Flats on the the Fathers’ Day weekend.

This is normally the time of year when interest and promotion of the mid-June acoustic music event starts to build with a run-down of what lies ahead and a who’s who of the bands booked for the three-day pick-fest.

Good weather and attendance for the 2010 edition of the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival had helped to give the impression of vitality to the annual venture but behind the scenes where organizational agreements and decisions are worked out, things apparently didn’t come together for the 2011 edition.

The two parties involved are the Sooke Community Association – custodians of the campground at the Philips Road site – and the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival Society.

Eric Day has been involved with running the event from the outset and he’s also a member of the Sooke Community Association. Last year he decided to step out of the organizers’ shoes and turn over the running of the festival to a group headed by Phil Shaver – no stranger to the event as he’d been a festival director for several years as well as a very well-received performer.

According to Day the community association is open for negotiations on future festivals at the site, they just couldn’t reach agreement on a fee for the use of the campground. Day chose not to disclose any figures.

Shaver confirmed that there would be no festival at the Sooke Flats this year. He said a number of alternate venues have been considered, but added, “this is not something I wish to rush into with a public notice. If people look on the website (www.sookebluegrass.com) there is a very simple message on there about the festival and where we’re at at this point.”

Bluegrass fans will no doubt be disappointed by the news, but it’s not all gloom as twice-monthly bluegrass-flavoured jams, long an Eric Day-initiated mainstay at the Royal Canadian Legion (first and third Sunday afternoons of each month, with a break in the summer) have resumed with East Sooke’s Al Planiden directing the melodious traffic.

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