By Andru McCracken

Participants at the 2016 Robson Valley Music Festival enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of the festival grounds. Organizers hope to make the focus of next year’s festival more about family, art, and music. / RMG FILE PHOTO

The valley’s premiere cultural festival is back after a year hiatus and the organizers are hoping to make this year the most environmentally friendly, family friendly, music centred experience so far.

Robson Valley Music Festival organizer Shara Gustafson said the year off helped them think about what they were doing and why.

Their goal is to limit gate sales (and encourage pre-sales) and so they are offering a new low-cost ticket for a limited time.

“It would be my dream to sell out well before, you know months before the actual event,” said Gustafson. “It alleviates anxiety.”

She said people always do turn up, but the new focus on pre-sales will also help them influence the character of the festival.

Zero wasted

“People that buy tickets in advance are committed to the event and they are there for the whole experience. They’re not just coming for the party,” she said.

“The people causing trouble are always people that buy tickets last minute at the gate. They show up at 11 o’clock at night kind of thing already ready for the party.”

Gustafson said the focus is on music, arts and culture.

“We’re not a gravel pit party. We’re a cultural experience celebrating our community and celebrating music and arts within our community. We’re bringing the world to our little village here,” she said. “It’s about families, and it’s about celebrating and it’s about being being together.”

Zero waste

The festival will take a different approach when it comes to recycling too.

Food will be served on actual dishes,

“You pay a deposit on the dish and then you bring it back,” she said. “We’ll have volunteers collect them, wash them, and bring them back. It’s really important to us to to have the least amount of waste possible.”

An onsite recycling station will ‘literally recycle every single thing.’

Festival organizers are hoping to try it out selling beer and cider onsite this year if they can get through licensing in time. A survey of festival goers found that more than 90% of attendees supported the idea.

Gustafson said she has seen it work positively at other festivals.

“It kind of mellows it out a bit. People aren’t spending zillions of years down at the campsite getting plastered. They’re engaging at festival while having a beer and joining in the activities,” she said.

Gustafson said that it provides some control too, patrons can be cut off when they’ve consumed too much.

One of the issues the festival faced was volunteer burnout. In order to address that, the festival will hire more security and first aid.

“We’ll try and beef that up a little bit, just so that people aren’t working incredibly long hours,” she said.

“Everybody seems pretty pumped to get going again.”

Early Bird Tickets are on sale now.

“They’re the best of the bunch and only available until December 15,” she said.

Eager Beaver Pass is just $95 (available at, and that price includes camping.