Excitement is building at Laketown Ranch as the facility counts down the final days to Sunfest 2016 — the first festival to be held at the new venue in Meade Creek, just outside Lake Cowichan.
It’s an impressive venue, with the main stage the largest of its kind 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 Sunfest owner and founder Greg 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 from 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 a complaint he’s heard from artists is there’s nothing worse than giving the performance of a lifetime without 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 why they became entertainers is they thrive off of the audience response. And if you want a good show, give the entertainer energy.”
Emmalee Brunt, public relations and marketing manager for Sunfest, said that Laketown Ranch has drilled a well in order to draw its own water.
As for preventing people from sneaking in, Brunt said that while they will have substantial fencing set up around the site it will not be possible for them to fence the entire perimeter.
“We are going to have security outposts way in the back, and people aren’t going to be permitted to access this side road [west of the festival grounds], so unless you’re trudging through the forest…,” she said, adding that while every festival will have people who manage to successfully sneak in, Sunfest is working to increase use of RFID wrist band technology.
“We’re going to do our best. If we see a major problem, a lot of people sneaking in from a certain area, then we’ll just beef up our security in that area.”
There’s a lighting and projection booth located about 100 feet directly in front of the main stage with a screen directly behind it for any audience members who are not able to see the stage. 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.
“The possibilities for this whole thing are whatever your imagination is,” he said.
The venue is designed to sell up to 18,000 tickets depending on the event.