It has been a long year for the organizers of Rock of the Woods, and a relatively short time to put everything together, but director Dave Bain is confident that the fourth iteration of the music festival will be even better than the first three when it begins this Thursday.
“The CVRD and Rock of the Woods went through a learning process this year, but we’re both going to come out of it with the best festival we’ve ever had,” he said. “The CVRD put a lot of faith in us being able to prove ourselves.”
Rock of the Woods ended up being the guinea pig for the a new event approval process in CVRD Area E, and the length of the process ended up leaving organizers with less time than they would have liked to prepare, but that hasn’t stopped them from booking an impressive roster of acts and making major improvements to the festival site next to the Cowichan River in Sahtlam.
In terms of performers, the lineup is headlined this year by Vancouver pop-punk hitmakers Gob and Calgary indie partiers The Dudes. Also on the bill are popular Cowichan Valley and Victoria acts like Man Made Lake, Carmanah, Band of Rascals, Dante DeCaro, and High Noon to Midnight, the multi-talented Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and some rapidly rising Seattle bands like SISTERS, Motopony and Tango Alpha Tango.
There’s a lot more to Rock of the Woods than just music, however, and big steps have been taken to make sure the entire experience is better than ever. The beer garden is bigger this year. The family zone is also bigger, and in a better spot than it was last year.
“We want to do as much kid- and family-friendly stuff as we can,” Bain emphasized.
Vendors will be set up in more of a food court format this year, with big tables where attendees will be encouraged to get to know each other, emphasizing the community atmosphere of Rock of the Woods. Camping and parking areas have been made larger this year as well.
For Bain, the most important aspect of the festival is the site itself, a secluded spot at the end of Irvine Drive, off Sunrise Road.
“It’s this natural amphitheatre surrounded by old-growth maples, right by the Cowichan River,” he said. “How better do you show off the Cowichan Valley? And on top of that, we’ve got these 30 bands that are going to play unbelievable music. It’s like a provincial park you can go see a music festival at.”
The entire festival is run by volunteers, who have worked extra hard this year to make the festival come together in a short period of time.
“The team has definitely stepped up,” Bain said. “They’ve definitely all got a clear idea about what they wanted to see at this festival.”
Bain included, no one has made money off Rock of the Woods, and that has never been the point.
“Everybody on the team grew up here. We’re all doing it for the idea of bringing young people back to the Cowichan Valley.”
Tickets are still available for all four days of the festival. A four-day pass will run $125, with an additional $35 for those who want to camp. Day passes are $45 for Friday, $65 for Saturday, or $30 for Sunday. Tickets can be bought at rockofthewoods.com or at the Cobblestone Pub, Mill Bay Pizza, Duncan Music, or Lyle’s Place in Victoria.