Apparently, Canadians have a reputation for hosting great festivals. I heard that from a number of musicians and from people attending the Robson Valley Music Festival last weekend, and it is another thing that makes me proud to be Canadian.

There is something amazing about live music and about gathering people together for a weekend to share food, stories, ideas and talents.

If you love a particular kind of music, or are hoping to hear only a particular musician, then a festival is not really the place for you. Each festival is unique, even from year to year, because it is deeply influenced by so many factors – the musicians, the vendors, the crowds, the weather, and of course the site and the planning. And unlike a concert, each performance is relatively short – one set – and many musicians come a long distance for that one set. But the other opportunities make it worthwhile, even if the pay doesn’t. I actually have no idea how much musicians get paid for festivals, but I am sure that some of them get paid in free food and the chance to perform in front of a crowd, and the opportunity to meet and jam with other musicians, often from very different backgrounds.

For me, the Robson Valley Music Festival was a great opportunity to hear some local talent which I am constantly amazed at; to catch up with an old roommate, meet his family and hear his band, which I’d never actually heard before; talk to lots of local people that I’ve only met briefly before; catch up with other friends; browse for some awesome art, clothing, jewelry and crafts; try some delicious food; and of course, to hear and dance to an amazing variety of music.

Festivals are also a form of advertising for the communities they are held in. It’s not an obvious form of advertising, but they bring people to a place, often the kind of people that don’t do their travel planning via the local visitor centre. These people make connections with local residents and businesses, connections they remember later on. It is sort of a word-of-mouth advertising that you can’t actually buy or sell. They are an amazing opportunity for pooling of talents, and not just for those coming from afar. They are also a great opportunity for locals to connect with each other, and for businesses to show off what they offer.

Festivals each have their own character and quirks, but people always remember the good bits, and they talk about it when they go home. They remember the place the next time they have a chance to come through, and the business names they heard about. They tell other people about the great accommodations, restaurants, activities, scenery and people. They bring friends with them next time.

That is priceless, and worth supporting.

By: Korie Marshall