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If you play music, will they come?

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Sounds of summer: zzzzzz

The mountains seem oddly quiet this summer.

With the loss of three entertainment-rich events – the Summit Series, Cabin Fever and Summer Sessions – Whistler’s major summer music events have been reduced to daily street entertainers and the two traditional weekend festivals: Jazz and Blues in September and Summer Solstice World Music last month.

In past summers Whistler has seen quality Canadian artists such as Spirit of the West, Chantal Kreviazuk, Colin James and the Rascalz gracing the stages. This season, however, you’ll have to make your way into the bars to catch any acts remotely of interest to the 19-39 crowd.

The exception to that will be Skatespace in early August, produced by Kristen Robinson of Resort Communications Group. Skatespace, a competition and celebration centred around the growing skateboard population, made its debut last year in the resort. The event garnered more positive attention than anticipated and the municipality and Skatespace organizers are shelling out $30,000 this year to upgrade Whistler’s skate park and ensure its growing success.

Much of the hype is due to Robinson, who knows how to throw one hell of a party. She’s also the producer behind the massive music lineup for the Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival, which in the past has included Econoline Crush, Swollen Members and Nickelback, just to name a few.

Robinson’s line up for Skatespace is a little more limited. After all, major recording artists don’t seem to be lining up to perform on skateboard ramps. She is, however, determined to bring in some of the best from Whistler and Vancouver and offer a little variety to the resort’s outdoor entertainment.

Robinson has also been involved with the long-running but now defunct, Summit Series, organized by Tourism Whistler. The weekend-long concerts featured both family and non-family entertainment, and were definitely highlights of the last four summers. However, Tourism Whistler has said the Summit Series is just too much of a financial risk. Considering the unpredictability of Whistler’s weather and the sub-alpine location, that’s understandable.

But has Tourism Whistler found another way to bring those lost dollars back to the resort? Are they offering up any other ideas of how to retain the interest of the 20- and 30-something crowds?

New to Tourism Whistler’s ventures this season will be the First Nations Festival in August, a music, art, dance and educational showcase of the region’s First Nations people. The aboriginal tourism industry is definitely growing, but this sort of festival is again aimed at families. There isn’t much to excite the 20-30-something music fan.

Robinson is quite open about her disappointment over the cancellation of the Summit Series. Although she has Skatespace to keep her occupied for a portion of the season, she has headed off to the Calgary Stampede this week to take in the entertainment at one of Canada’s biggest summer events, and bring back some fresh and inspired ideas for Whistler.

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