After four days in the heat and dirt of the Boonstock Music and Arts Festival, Bailey Johnson was eager to finish folding up her tent Monday morning and head back to Kamloops.
“There’s so much garbage on the ground everywhere,” observed the 20-year-old, who, like thousands of other campers, was covered in a thick layer of dust and surrounded by a sea of empty beverage containers strewn about the grounds. “Besides that, it was fun. I loved the performers.”
It’s unlikely she’ll be back, however, after shelling out $700 for a VIP experience that didn’t live up to expectations, since beer gardens didn’t materialize and there was no camping space reserved for her and a pal.
“For the price I paid, I didn’t really get what I thought I’d get,” Johnson said.
Her friend, Kate Mihalcheon, agreed, and said the party was a bit too wild at times.
“The no liquor licensing, I think that brought in a lot of the kids to do drugs and stuff like that. That was kind of sketchy for me,” she said.
“I love Penticton. I’ve been here millions of times. Just the festival, in general, I don’t think I’ll be back for.”
Having attended three previous Boonstocks closer to home, Edmonton man Sean Regaudie knew what to expect.
“It’s unfortunate they were a little understaffed in getting people organized — no big surprise,” he said.
“Even though they didn’t get a liquor licence this year, I thought they did a really good job. It was no problem.”
Regaudie said the suspected drug overdose death of a 24-year-old Alberta woman at the festival early Saturday prompted a flurry of text messages from worried friends back home, but said the tragedy made attendees more aware of their own safety.
“These things happen. It’s sad,” he said. “We talked about it a little bit, and everybody just tries to look out for each other.”
Since the festival began with a pre-party on Thursday, RCMP have released just a single statement, which was issued Saturday afternoon. It confirmed the 24-year-old woman’s death, stated at least two other people were in critical condition as a result of drug overdoses, and warned revellers to stay hydrated and avoid ingesting “unknown substances.”
A total of 80 people were taken from the festival site to Penticton Regional Hospital between 7 a.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Monday, according to Interior Health spokeswoman Grace Kucey.
This marked Boonstock’s first year on a plot of land owned by members of the Penticton Indian Band, following a nine-year run in Gibbons, Alta., where it wore out its welcome.