Less music for locals

It will be a tuneless weekend in Red Deer with the cancellation of the Central Music Festival, which takes place just north of the City.

The event has been staged for several years and almost from the beginning, organizers have faced challenges in attracting a growing crowd.

It’s normal for new events such as these to struggle for a few years to find an audience, but Mike Bradford, president of the Central Music Festival Society, said in a release this is the worst year for advance sales and volunteer recruitment that he can recall despite an “Awesome line up and positive feedback from everyone who has ever attended the festival in the past.”

One has to wonder what the problem is, or if there is more than one reason for the seeming lack of support for this event.

One thing we have heard is that there aren’t enough well-known artists featured during the weekend to attract larger crowds. No one is suggesting the event turn sharply down a ‘commercial’ route, and it’s certainly must be a challenge in assembling a list of performers for a number of tastes.

You don’t want all mainstream and that has never been the mandate of this event. But a big name or two can likely do plenty to bolster attendance. Maybe some of the folks who come out to hear the more well-known singers would stick around and be introduced to some of the lesser-known albeit extremely talented other musicians on the schedule.

The timing seems right for the Central Music Festival – the weather usually cooperates and it generally falls on a weekend where there isn’t a whole lot of other activities running across the region. That said, there are other music events that run around this time in general, including folk festivals in Canmore, Calgary and Edmonton, the recent Big Valley Jamboree as well as the Shake the Lake event at Sylvan Lake not to mention the popular Jazz at the Lake set for this weekend at Sylvan Lake as well.

Ultimately, a cancellation like this is tough to swallow for organizers, but hopefully it will give them time to regroup and reassess what might help draw people to the event. It’s a perfect setting – a natural amphitheatre with lots to make it work. There is also camping and activities for families in general. Perhaps with a broader appeal in terms of artist selection, more people would give it a chance and learn about all kinds of music they hadn’t been aware of before.

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