Canada’s biggest stage taking shape at Lake Cowichan for Sunfest

Members of the public have had their first peek at Laketown Ranch.

Members of the public have had their first peek at Laketown Ranch.

On June 10, the location, which will host the Sunfest Country Music Festival next month, held an open house and mini concert, allowing media and community members to explore the site, which is still under construction.

Laketown Ranch and Sunfest founder Greg Adams brought visitors up onto the venue’s main stage, which he described as the largest in Canada.

“This whole venue here was built for two people. It was built for the artist… [And] it was built for the customer,” said Adams.

The structure itself is made primarily of concrete and steel, with some wood along the stage’s outer perimeter that will allow for the use of pyrotechnics, confetti guns and a trap door out of which entertainers can be raised.

Immediately in front of the stage is the pit, followed by the reserved section and beyond that, general admission.

“The pit is where the kids come in, they like to get close to the artist… Why the pit is designed like this and reserve goes behind? Because that’s what the entertainer wants.”

Adams said that a recurring complaint he’s heard from artists is there’s nothing worse than giving the performance of a lifetime and to not have the audience up close, in their face, cheering their guts out.

“One entertainer, Chris Young, he came off [stage] once and said, ‘There’s a lady out there knitting.’ Entertainers have feelings. I know they get paid, but the why they became entertainers is they thrive off of the audience response. And if you want a good show, give the entertainer energy.”

Tours of the grounds, which are still very much under construction, included horseback rides along the roadways up to the campgrounds, behind the main bowl.

Grass has only just begun to sprout up around the site and Adams said they’re still hoping for more rain. Visitors were asked by organizers to drive slowly to reduce dust.

Adams outlined some of the possible uses for Laketown Ranch besides concerts and music festivals, such as bike trails, the start/finish point for a half-marathon and even a drive-in theatre using their projection equipment and a large screen over the stage frame.

“You could be watching the Stanley Cup hockey game or the World Series because we can shoot a projector against this and make it into a drive-in,” he said. “The possibilities for this whole thing is whatever your imagination is.”

The venue is designed to sell up to 18,000 tickets depending on the event.