No rockin' on the river: Merritt, B.C. music festival cancelled

The struggle is very real for organizers of public festivals in B.C. this year. A popular country music festival in the interior has already been cancelled and as Travis Prasad reports, at least two other festivals in Vancouver are facing an uncertain future.

British Columbians can say goodbye to another major B.C. music festival for 2023, as organizers for the Rockin’ River Music Festival in Merritt, B.C., announced it will not be holding the popular event.

They say the festival has been met with a “series of economic obstacles” that they’ve tried their best to overcome but haven’t been successful.

It is not exactly clear what those obstacles are or if this just a one-year cancellation.

“We’ve had the pleasure and honour of producing Rockin River Music Fest bringing country music’s biggest acts to Merritt, B.C., and creating countless musical memories along the way,” staff said on the festival’s website.

“We want to thank the City of Merritt who has always welcomed us with open arms, the incredible artists, staff and most importantly – you, the fans. Many of whom have been loyal since year one. We hope to see you again soon!”

Last week, organizers of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival announced they were shutting down permanently, but a groundswell of support has them re-thinking those plans.

The festival’s board originally said the costs of the event, the cash-flow requirements, and its limited budget for staff have made it impossible for the event to happen this year and would take hundreds of thousands of dollars more to put it on in the future

Now, an open letter from the board says several parties have offered possible solutions for funding and support since it announced the plan to end the festival last week.

It says the board has paused the motion to dissolve the society and moved the annual general meeting from Feb. 1 to March 1, while it explores options to save the festival.

Another festival is on the ropes as well, as organizers for the annual CelticFest Vancouver are “feeling the crunch, wondering if their festival will scrape together the funds to go ahead as planned March 17-18 in downtown Vancouver.”

“But despite careful planning, the (CelticFest Vancouver 2023) may not go ahead,” media staff for the festival said.

“In the last few weeks, several sponsors have fallen through, and government funding approval dates continue to be pushed back, leaving uncertainty.”

Vancouver’s popular International Auto Show was also cancelled for 2023 back in December after organizers said supply chain issues threw a wrench in their show’s operations.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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