Special Woodstock takes over farm Sunday

Special Woodstock is back at Providence Farm Sunday, Aug. 16.

Special Woodstock — that extraordinary festival that brings happiness to so many special people — is back at Providence Farm Sunday, Aug. 16.

Shelley Vaags, an organizational stalwart from the beginning, said in a release, “We are excited to be celebrating 16 years of fun and music with people from all over Vancouver Island and beyond.

“This unique festival was visualized at a group home gathering of people with special needs and special abilities 20 years ago. I was playing music at a weekly music session that had been started in 1996 after the Glendale institution closed its doors. I saw so many talented people with special needs over the years, that I was inspired to create a venue where all could enjoy their performances.”

That turned out to be the Cowichan Valley’s Providence Farm.

With a vision in her mind, Vaags was able to get a lot of people on board.

“Together with the help from the Lions Clubs of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, professional musicians, many, many volunteers and community businesses, we were able to create a festival that has bridged gaps between communities, created lasting friendships, brought families together, and made the world a little brighter for all of us,” she said.

This festival is not just for people in the special needs communities to enjoy.

“We invite everyone to bring their families to this heartwarming, uplifting enlightening event,” Vaags said.

The big stage features upcoming new talent as well as professional bands to keep the grounds hopping, but there’s also a karaoke stage, as well as a gazebo stage in the rose garden behind the main building where listening is a relaxed experience in the shade of the fruit trees.

This venue features soloists, duets and easy listening performances and there’s a chance as well to buy tea and home-made treats.

The performing list includes Rick Scott, the Smiley Family Band, Loose Change, Hazen Sage, Coastal Giant, and Thor and the Thundercats, many of whom return year after year because they love playing the event.

It’s just a great day, according to Vaags. Entry is by donation.

“Bring your sunscreen, spend a day with us and I am sure you will agree after you leave that it was one of the best days you and your family have ever spent together,” she said.

For special needs families there is bus transportation offered to and from downtown Duncan, Victoria, Ladysmith and Nanaimo. Check out the specialwoodstock.ca website for more information.