Planning for next Boonstock begins soon

Meanwhile, Penticton RCMP say they'll comment on the festival later this week

After working out some kinks during the inaugural event last weekend in Penticton, organizers of the Boonstock Music and Arts Festival are planning to do it even better next year.

“I think when you do an event on a new site, there’s always some learning that needs to happen, and I’m glad we did that,”  operations director Barb Haynes said Tuesday.

“I feel like we implemented very well, considering some of the challenges like heat, dust, things of that nature, and we have a plan moving forward.”

Haynes said attendance at the festival averaged about 9,000 each night from Friday through Sunday.

Site cleanup is expected to take up to 10 days, after which planning will begin in earnest for 2015.

While the festival was a boon for local businesses and the artists received good reviews from fans, Haynes acknowledged the suspected drug overdose death of one attendee, identified in news reports as 24-year-old Lynn Tolocka of Leduc, Alta., did cast a shadow over the event.

“I know our team and our service providers were absolutely reeling from the tragedy that happened, and I think people are always going to make choices that you wish they wouldn’t,” Haynes said.

She’s pleased, however, that concerns about public safety raised by liquor inspectors, who denied a licence for the festival, didn’t actually materialize.

“I would say that we are very proud that we were able to keep the peace and do what we hoped we would do,” said Haynes.

As he prepared to leave the site Monday, festival goer Franzi Tschurtschenthaler said he got what he hoped for from Boonstock.

“The performances were good. The stages were good. There were lots of hot babes. They did a pretty good job for their first year,” said the Kelowna man, who will consider returning.

“I like it. It impressed me as a festival.”

Bailey Johnson agreed the musical talent exceeded expectations, but was disappointed with other aspects of the event, such as disorganization in the campgrounds and lack of value for the $700 she shelled out for a VIP experience.

“For the price I paid, I didn’t really get what I thought I’d get,” said the Kamloops woman.

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.

“Even though they didn’t get a liquor licence this year, I thought they did a really good job. It was no problem,” he said

Penticton RCMP Cpl. Martin Trudeau said Tuesday that police would comment on Boonstock later in the week in conjunction with other emergency services after all their data is compiled.

A total of 90 people were taken from the festival site to Penticton Regional Hospital between 7 a.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to Interior Health spokeswoman Grace Kucey.

She said most of the cases were drug- and alcohol-related.