Salmon Arm ROOTSandBLUES team tuning up for fabulous festival

Volunteers still needed for upcoming event
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ROOTSandBLUES administrative services manager Toni Starkell and Volunteer Coordinator Emily Valentini look forward to this year's festival, which runs July 26-28.

Wear a hat, comfy shoes, pack rain gear, slap on the sunscreen and prepare to be wowed, because the forecast for this year’s ROOTSandBLUES Festival is hot – even if the weather is not!

And while hopes are high the weather will be fine, rain has never dampened festival spirits before.

ROOTSandBLUES staff are in the final stages of crafting another stellar experience for patrons coming from far and wide.

Marketing and sponsorship coordinator Althea Mongerson said this year’s festival, which plays out July 26 through 28, closely resembles the 2023 edition that was smoked out by nearby wildfires.

She is excited about this year’s Main Stage headliners – Amanda Marshall on Friday, Five Alarm Funk on Saturday and Sarah McLachlan, who will close the festival on Sunday night. But there is plenty more to be excited about prior to and during the three-day immersive world of music.

Fabulous and free describe the week of concerts leading up to the main event: The Tuned-Up Series features free concerts at 11:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday at the Ross Street Plaza. Then show up for for the 6 p.m. July 25 Kick-Off Concert, whose venue has shifted slightly south to the corner of Alexander and Hudson.

“This will be a real dance party,” said an enthusiastic Mongerson, noting Montreal-based Teke::Teke will create a sound reminiscent of 1960s and '70s era psychedelic soundtracks, with a frenetic, modern twist. Also on the bill for this free concert are rebellious, spiritual and exhilarating Soweto, South Africa’s Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness aka BCUC, whose live shows are transcendent rites of explosive sound. Following in the pulses of their ancestors, they awaken crowds to the power of a shared, fairer future.

There are no changes to the layout at the main festival site, the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds. Music will pour forth from the Main Stage at night and the Barn Stage both day and night. More great vibes can be heard at the Blues Stage and Shade Stage during the day.

“There is a ton of great Canadian talent but also a world flair – great quality music on all the stages.” said Mongerson. “We’re stoked to be able to welcome patrons to our festival and lucky to have the community and volunteers that we do that allow us to put on this huge event.”

And there is more than just a nod to our First Nations neighbours as Indigenous and youth co-ordinator Kenthen Thomas continues to expand the rich Indigenous experience at the festival.

Plulk'w Place, meaning the gathering of people, is located at the heart of the festival site and offers interactive displays, storytelling, education, a Secwépemc (Shuswap) way of knowing and being, and of course, music!

Toni Starkell and Cindy Diotte, administrative services managers, are excited to share a world of great food, a vibrant artisan market and cool ROOTSandBLUES merchandise.

ROOTSandBLUES is offering two flower-full festival designs in a line of T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts and hats.

This year, the Artisan Market is host to 29 artists featuring jewelry, clothing, leather and cork products, macrame jewelry, artwork, caricatures, steampunk masks, handmade linens, balloon art and more.

Many food options will be available, from darn right healthy to ‘oh what the heck, it’s festival!’ Many food vendors will return, with a handful of newcomers determined to appeal to patrons’ appetites.

A total of 29 food vendors will serve shaved ice, lemonade, popsicles and smoothies. For heartier appetites there is Jamaican cuisine, bagel sandwiches, bubble tea, sandwiches, soup, salads, pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, beavertails and poutine, along with Greek,Thai and South Asian cuisine.

Kimm Magill-Hofmann, chair of the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society that produces the festival, is excited it will take place almost a month earlier than in the past, providing a great experience, with longer daylight hours, perhaps cooler temperatures and hopefully no wildfires.

“We are very proud the staff has been able to recover so quickly with a shorter timeline,” she said, “We have complete faith in executive director David Gonella, artistic director Kevin Tobin and Kenthen Thomas; they have been able to pull together another amazing festival.”

Giving patrons the best possible experience also requires an army of volunteers. And while they are “almost there,” Mongerson said more volunteers are needed: those with their Serving it Right designation for the beer gardens, infrastructure crews for set up and tear down, stage crews and more.

Volunteers who work for four hours at either set up and tear down, and put in four hours on each of the festival days for an overall total of 16 hours, will get weekend passes to the festival, a volunteer T-shirt and have access to food all day at the Askew’s Volunteer lounge.

And this year, volunteers will be entered into a draw for a beautiful Godin guitar donated by Acorn Music – hopefully adorned with several artist signatures.

If you are interested, reach out to volunteer coordinator Emily Valentini at [email protected].

The Roots and Blues Downtowner is a free shuttle bus that will transfer patrons between the festival and downtown Salmon Arm. Go online to rootsandblues.ca to find out when the shuttle bus will run, buy your tickets, listen to this year’s performers and find out about a whole lot more.