Before tragedy struck just afterwards, the first Rhythm on the Rock music festival went quite well, its promoter said Monday.
“There was a lot of families and little kids and a real mix of all ages,” said promoter Jessie Lightburn. “The younger crowd started to come out once there was more of a rock and roll atmosphere.”
As the crowd dispersed Saturday night after the one-day festival at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds, a 19-year-old man was fatally stabbed near neighbouring Vanier Secondary School.
A 16-year-old boy has been charged with first-degree murder.
Violence, Lightburn indicated, was the opposite of what she hoped to create.
“My vision was to basically showcase the best of up-and-coming talent in the Valley … We were really trying to draw out the whole community if we could.”
Lightburn said she was “super happy with the whole positive vibes. We didn’t have any issues onsite the entire night. There were no security breaches. There was no negativity at all.”
Among musical highlights was Annie Becker from Montreal.
“She was getting hooted and hollered after every single song. I definitely want to bring her back out from Montreal.”
Multi-Coloured Mischief was another musical highlight, Lightburn said, adding that the performers all enjoyed themselves.
“Everybody who came had a great time. They all played their hearts out and they had a great time backstage with all the food and the couch area. They all commented how they got treated really well and wanted to play again next year.”
She’s already planning for next year’s festival.
“We had just enough numbers to make it a success and now that we’ve done it once we’ll know kind of where we can do a little bit better in certain areas for next year.”
Lightburn, who’s from Nanaimo, has been in the Comox Valley about a year.
She appreciated “the overwhelming community support” for the first music festival she produced, some of which was reflected by raising almost $300 for the Comox Valley Boys and Girls Club.
“That was a super good highlight for me. I was pretty happy with that.”