Five Alarm Funk is one of several bands that will play at the Element Music Festival at the Snug Lake Amphitheatre grounds, just 40 km north of Princeton. Submitted photo

Element Music Festival ready to rock

New music festival taking place just outside of Princeton

Wildfires have not put a damper on a new music festival taking place near Princeton.

The Element Music Festival, Aug. 3 to 6, which is capped at 4,000 people, will play on at the Snug Lake Amphitheatre — just 40 kilometres north of Princeton. The festival features jam bands, funk, jazz and acts like Five Alarm Funk, The String Cheese Incident and more.

“Myself, and my business partners, believe festivals should be like a getaway. These big events have multiple stages and a crammed schedule that make it hectic. Our lives are already hectic and we don’t need a festival to be that way too,” said Keith Duggan, co-founder and director of Element Music Festival. “This is a little more relaxed pace. A single stage, with maybe a few secret stages, and we concentrated on top-tier acts.”

The festival is new to the area, but the organizers are no strangers to the industry. Some of the founders previously ran the Bonfire Music Festival that took place on the Sunshine Coast. They set out for a new venture last year when they came upon the 160 acre property and held a soft opening for about 300 guests last year to have a dry run at making their operations efficient.

“We have been in this business for 25 to 30 years and we weren’t going to go into a big event blind. We want to know all the things you need to know before you invite thousands of people to your site,” said Duggan.

As Duggan and his partners continue to grow the festival and develop the property, he said they would like to plan other festivals and concerts for the amphitheatre, which he compares to a smaller version of the Gorge in Washington State.

“This is not a one-off thing here. We own this property, we moved here and we are here to stay. We are supportive of the community and using lots of local suppliers from Princeton to Merritt and even Skaha Sound from Penticton,” said Duggan, whose production company has also worked at the Area 27 racetrack and Funtastic in Vernon.

Matt Laundrie, promotions representative for the festival, said ticket sales have been steady with devout fans of headliners String Cheese Incident helping the cause.

“We have sold tickets in five provinces, 22 states and five different countries. Lot of these people travel to as many dates for these bands as they can. They have people from Japan fly in follow them around for a few shows and head home,” said Laundrie.

With large festivals like Pemberton not happening this year it has also helped boost ticket sales.

“A lot of people were looking for something and I think we can fill that gap. I have promoted concerts for 13 years and the bigger they get, the harder they fall. People still like that intimate experience and get turned off when a festival gets too big because it loses its integrity, at least that is my philosophy on it,” said Laundrie.

Other bands playing at the Element Music Festival include Brickhouse, Steve Kimock and Friends, Genetics, Big Easy Funk Ensemble and Garaj Mahal. They will rotate times over the course of the four days starting at 8 p.m. on Thursday and then 3 p.m. until 3:30 a.m. on the other days. Expect to see them jam together as well, with bassist Oteil Burbridge (The Allman Brothers Band) and others making appearances over the weekend.

The festival is promoted as family-friendly, with a designated family campground. There is a lake nearby, which the owners have trucked in 60 tonnes of sand to make a nice beach area, with a strict no swimming policy from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. Lifeguards will be on duty during swimming hours. Organizers are also planning to have food truck vendors, craft and merchandise vendors and a circus with stiltwalkers and other performers to entertain all-ages. Tickets range in price from $100 to $300, kids under 12 are free. The late-night events are also ticketed. For more visit elementfestival.info.

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