Desert Live Music Festival tunes in to Osoyoos

South Okanagan community announces free music festival to be held June 27 to July 4.

A free, family-friendly music festival to be held in Osoyoos this summer is gaining a lot of buzz.

Desert Live Music Festival will take place June 27 to July 4, 2014, and tie in with the already popular Canada Day events to draw even more people to the South Okanagan community as a kick-off to the tourist-heavy summer months.

“There has been a lot of false starts over the years with these kind of festivals and I think we have finally hit a point where we have the right support and people  behind it and we will pull off a very fun, well run event for 2014,” said chair of the festival committee Mike Campol.

After a group of community members started planning the festival and interest gained momentum, Campol said Destination Osoyoos took interest and realized the only way to take it further was to put it under an existing society.

A sub-committee was struck under Destination Osoyoos so the festival could start applying for grants and look for funding opportunities.

The Town of Osoyoos has supported the festival with $15,000 in funding that will help get them going.

Campol, who is the general manager of Spirit Ridge Vineyard Spa and Resort and sits on the board of directors for Destination Osoyoos, said they are hoping local stakeholders will also back them in the form of sponsorship to help with the estimated $55,000 the festival will cost.

Holding the festival fits in with the strategies of Destination Osoyoos, said Campol, as their mandate is to attract tourists and improve economic development.

He said they took a look at the needs of the community from that point of view and decided hosting it leading into and until after the Canada Day long weekend made sense.

“This is a time when local businesses are at staffing levels that they can handle it. On the Canada Day long weekend we get a ton of exposure and traffic but then it dies off for about 10 days because many of our tourists come from Alberta at that time of year and leave for the Calgary Stampede. In order to compete with that we thought this was a great idea,” said Campol. “We will also actively market the festival to the Lower Mainland market and the interior to bring those people too.”

The event has been scaled back a bit from the original idea, which was to host a ticketed, big-name band at Desert Park for the finale.

“The goal was to end this with a bang at Desert Park. To do that we would need sponsorship and potentially a permit. We felt it was important to get an inaugural event under our belts and get that support to attract funding we would need to do that,” said Campol, who added the organizers have set their sights on having the big finale in 2015 or 2016.

For this year the bulk of the entertainment will take place at Gyro Beach and local stakeholders are invited to host music acts on their sites from an acoustic guitar player to a full-on band.

“This won’t be genre-specific either. So if a stakeholder at a hotel wants to host a band they are not mandated to go through us to book the entertainment, but there will be a process of approval to ensure the acts are tasteful because we will have a lot of families around at that time of year,” said Campol.

Organizers already have their security and clean-up plan in place and Campol said they will host a beer garden, food vendors and possibly other types of vendors.

He said more information will be available for those who want to volunteer in the coming weeks when their website goes live.

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