A&E » Music

Rock with the equinox

SERF celebrates Squamish’s reclaimed waterfront, promotes local and regional music



What: Squamish Equinox Rock Festival

When: Saturday, Sept. 19, 2 p.m. 'til late

Where: Squamish waterfront (Nexxen lands)

Cost: $25 adults, kids under 12 free (accompanied by adult)

It's a little known fact that 40 years ago, Squamish played host to a rock festival that featured the likes of Alice Cooper and Little Richard. Seriously. And while the concert attracted a crowd of almost 15,000, local journalists predicted that rock festivals wouldn't be part of B.C.'s musical landscape.

At least one group of enthusiastic locals is well on its way to proving that theory wrong.

Karin Shard is one of the organizers of the Squamish Equinox Rock Festival (SERF), an outdoor all-ages concert that is held each year along the Squamish waterfront. The community-oriented event was started three years ago to celebrate the reopening of the waterfront at Nexxen Beach.

"Traditionally, it was an industrial area so now, they've been cleaning it up and it's so beautiful down there," Shard said.

"...As the area down there is being developed by the district, there are some major plans going on and we wanted to show our district and everybody that we'd really like to keep this as a public area for our community to be able to enjoy."

SERF is meant to show the community's appreciation for this waterfront access and emphasize that the area should remain public.

Shard joined the organizers in the second year of the event, and is now coordinating the third full-day event alongside Paul Hudson and Tina Nowaczewski. In just three short years, the grassroots event has gained a lot of support from local government and businesses, and has grown from 500 attendees in its first year to attracting almost 1,500 last year, when the festival was held in June.

"The District of Squamish is 100 per cent behind us. They've allowed us to use the lands free of charge in order to make this event happen for the community."

Last year, when the festival was still very new, it was harder to find businesses that were willing to ante up to support the event. But this year, they've managed to recruit 25 sponsors to offset almost $50,000 in costs associated with hosting the event, and many more that were willing to help by putting up posters or selling tickets.

"When we started advertising for it, a lot of people already knew about it and a lot of people were excited about it," Shard said.

For the 2009 festival, organizers have decided to return to their roots and host the event in September, during the equinox.

They've recruited eight bands to provide entertainment starting at 2 p.m. and running late into the evening. Organizers have tried to strike a balance between local and regional talent, recruiting the Nelson-based Wassabi Collective to headline alongside Victoria's Brand New Waves. Also performing are five local talents - Jam 'n' Tonics, Zombie's Locker, The Dead Heathers, The Overcomers and DJ Riddim Fernandez - alongside the Vancouver-based Lotus and Mindil Beach Markets from Victoria. The lineup offers a range of everything from reggae, surf and ska to country, blues and rock.

Aside from the rich musical offerings, there are lots of other fun activities planned for the day and evening, including a full Kid's Zone sponsored by Royal Bank and Party Perfect, Slackers slacklining, Play 'n' Trade's video vehicle, Healing Drums African Drum Circle, Hot 'n' Hevy Huups and firespinning.

Tickets to the event are $25 for adults, and kids under the age of 12 are free if an adult accompanies them. Tickets are available online at www.squamishmusicfestival.com , or they can be purchased at the gate.



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