Some of the best times at Special Woodstock are when the entertainers, like Shelley Vaags, centre, encourage ‘special’ performers to join them on stage. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen file)

Documentary coming as Special Woodstock celebrates its 20th birthday

To make the big two-oh extra special, Erin Rooke is making a film about Special Woodstock this year

Special Woodstock: that music festival that truly exemplifies the word “special” is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

And, to add to the festivities, Valley filmmaker Erin Rooke has been selected to receive $50K in production funding from Storyhive’s Documentary Edition to produce her documentary, The Story of Special Woodstock.

It will cover the big birthday of Special Woodstock, the unique music festival dedicated to showcase the talents of those with developmental disabilities as well as Island and local performers.

Special Woodstock was inspired by the iconic Woodstock music festival which is celebrating its 50th anniversary as well. Rooke’s aunt, Shelley Vaags, is the founder and brains behind this festival. She has worked with her community to empower people who are largely underestimated and overlooked. The Special Woodstock Festival now attracts people from all over the world and is even featured on the original Woodstock’s website.

Rooke’s project was one of 30 selected from 382 applications to Telus Storyhive’s Documentary Edition which awards $50,000 to storytellers making documentaries that shine a light on local people, places, cultures and history.

In addition to the Storyhive Funding, Creative BC will provide top-up funding to help bring this documentary to life.

Vaags said this week that she’s thrilled with the response from the community that pushed her niece’s Storyhive idea over the top to get the funding.

“This community has pulled through for us every single time. From voting for this all the way back to when we were just beginning Special Woodstock. They were lovely. It shows they are proud of the event,” she said.

Special Woodstock itself is coming on Sunday, Aug. 18 — as always, the third Sunday in August — and Vaags said this year will be extra special as many former stars will shine again on the big stage at Providence Farm.

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