Another weekend, another festival in the books.
This year’s Filberg Festival will go down as a hot one, in more than one regard.
The temperatures were hot all weekend – just shy of 30 C all four days – and the entertainment was as hot as it gets.
About the only aspect that bucked the trend was the merchandise. There were some very cool pieces available.
The numbers still have to be finalized, but early returns indicate that the 2014 Filberg held its own.
“In terms of people coming through the gate, I think we are pretty much on par with last year,” said co-producer Wendy Sears. “Saturday was definitely the busiest day – we were probably at capacity on Saturday, which is about 5,000.”
She said that was to be expected, based on not only previous years, but also on the entertainment schedule.
“Saturday usually is busy, and we did sort of program the music that way,” she said. “Royal Wood was a really big draw on the main stage.”
As was David Gogo, who had fans dancing in the aisles. He even joined them for one song, playing licks on his guitar while strolling among the appreciative crowd.
The entertainment was an eclectic lineup, set to suit a wide range of age groups, and just as wide a range of genres.
“The music really was the biggest change to the festival this year,” said Sears. “Traditionally it’s been a lot more folk and kind of bluesy. This year we consciously programmed a lot of different acts; different genres. We had Latin, we had Ken Lavigne that the older crowd really enjoyed, and Daniel Wesley for the younger crowd. We are trying to (expand) the demographic a little bit.”
It was also the major introduction of the brand new main stage to the Vancouver Island community.
“Lots of positive comments about the stage,” said Sears. “The acoustics were phenomenal.”
And the merchandise was, as always, spectacular.
The artisans on hand brought everything from wool to wood. There were purses created from old car seatbelts at one end, and bowls handcrafted from the wood of trees devastated by pine beetles at the other. There was glass in all shapes and sizes, pottery, beautiful paintings and incredible photography art.
“And people were shopping – there were a lot of people leaving with bags in their hands,” said Sears.
The weather wore down some artisans; then again, the drink vendors could not have been much happier.
“I think the heat was a bit wearing for the vendors, particularly the ones that were down by the water, where there isn’t as much shade,” said Sears. “The glass people always want to be down there, because it is the best place to show glass, but when we were doing the tear-down, there were some people saying it was a bit draining.”
Sears said one of the big positives coming away from the 2014 Filberg is that the festival is gaining more of an audience from outside the Comox Valley.
“We… were surprised at the number of people that came up from Victoria and other areas, like the Lower Mainland,” she said.
“That’s important. They come here, spend their money in our community, stay in our hotels, do other things – it’s good for the local economy.”
Sears said that the next month or so will involve wrapping up this year’s Filberg, then plans will begin for the 2015 version.
“We will take a little bit of a break, and then we start getting ready for the jury process for next year and trying to program the music lineup,” she said.
“So by October we will be working on 2015.”