Cowichan’s Sunfest already working on improvements for 2015

Sunfest 2014 is just finished but excitement for next year’s show is already building.

Plenty of people took event organizers up on a special offer to renew their passes in August after the announcement that Keith Urban will be performing at Sunfest 2015.

There’s also been action taken already on some of the concerns raised by the public after this year’s huge festival that attracted more than 40,000 people to Cowichan Exhibition Park.

"You spoke and we listened," says a post from spokesperson Charlotte Fisher on the Sunfest page. Some campsites are wider

and a $25 security and environmental fee will be charged on all campsites. In addition, the reserved seating area will get additional barriers and security.

By Aug. 13, after those brief announcements led to an online conversation, a follow up post gave some answers.

"Hey Sunfesters, we just want to clarify a couple of concerns that are being brought up about the security/environmental fee in the campgrounds: $5 of the fee is going towards our curbside recycle and zero waste program."

There had been a lot of garbage left behind at some of the campsites, which led to Sunfest organizers taking a second look at the situation.

"After many of our respectful campers put out their bags every day, we had a team that sorted through each bag to make sure that we met our goal of zero waste. This took a lot of volunteer resources but also cost extra money for labour, fuel, trucking, etc.

"The site clean-up was paid for by Wideglide Entertainment (Sunfest) at a cost of $400 per hour. Our volunteers did a great job during the event, but after Monday a work crew was hired to finish with the clean up," Fisher said.

The remainder of the fee ($20) will be spent on increased security in the campgrounds. "In 2013 we ejected two sites, in 2014 our security team ejected 21 sites. In 2015 – thanks to the

increased security fee – we will have the ability to keep a closer eye on the behavior and rule enforcement of campsites."

That will make a difference, she said.

"In 2015, the first time a campsite is noted for the offence of a dirty campsite, a $200 damage deposit fee will be charged on site. If there is a second offence, they will lose the deposit and be ejected from the event."

Sunfest won’t be charging every campsite a damage deposit because the majority of customers are respectful and leave the grounds in good shape and shouldn’t have to pay and if volunteers and employees needed to check all sites on Monday wait

times for people exiting the park would become excessive.

Fisher said that as the 2015 tickets are on sale now, "people have been letting us know areas that they liked and things they didn’t like, so we’re just listening to our customers and making the changes when and where we can." What they’re going to focus on now is the rest of our lineup for 2015 so any other changes that are coming will be announced closer to the event, Fisher said.

"We want to work on making that lineup the best we can. We’re negotiating every day. We’ll be announcing something between now and Christmas but we have no actual timeline on an announcement yet," she said.

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