A major urban folk festival is in the works for Victoria Park in Charlottetown in 2014.
The public will get to hear all about it when organizers unveil their plans at a public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Charlottetown Hotel’s Georgian Room.
Wayne Long, Charlottetown’s events development officer, said the city is interested to work with the group to create an event for a number of reasons. The city was approached by the organizers.
“It’s a nice new annual event for us to have, it fits well with the mayor’s cultural vision and the task force’s cultural vision for the city and it’s a diverse type of activity,’’ Long said. “Apart from the jazz and blues festival, I’m not sure we have a lot of bigger musical festivals.’’
Rob Oakie, a member of the organizing committee, said the goal is to create a world-class festival, modelled after the more successful festivals in Canada, such as folk festivals in Edmonton and Vancouver.
“This will be an urban festival, a non-profit-based community-owned event that is really a family-friendly event,’’ Oakie said. “The model we are looking at is an acoustic-based festival. That would include al types of acoustic music, not just singer-songwriters.’’
The music would range from Celtic, bluegrass, Cajun and Brazilian genres.
Oakie said the event would be nothing like the country-centric Cavendish Beach Music Festival. Cavendish is a concert festival with one stage. Victoria Park would feature multiple stages spread throughout the grounds.
“Victoria Park suits it perfectly. The setting is really beautiful. You can put stages in different parts.’’
Oakie said they’re not using the new event grounds on Grafton Street because that area is designed for basic concerts, not an event that will essentially be separated into sections.
This festival was originally earmarked for the Cabot Park area in Malpeque but that was when organizers had a camping festival in mind. They’ve since changed direction and are now ion an urban festival frame of mind.
Admission will be charged to get on the grounds. New legislation, passed by the province before the Canada Games in 2009, allows for paid events in Victoria Park. But camping is not permitted under any circumstances.
“This is not about (making) money or big, huge headliners or selling beer. It’s about creating an event that engages the community and brings a really strong cultural and community aspect to it.’’
Since Victoria Park has its own governance bylaw, a public meeting must be held before council can allow the event to go ahead. Council did pass a resolution on Monday night to send the matter to the public meeting.
“It’s a nice area for us to streamline into so we’ve been working closely with organizers. The city was very up front with them . . . that there is a certain protocol that has to be respected here,’’ Long said, referring to the need for a public meeting.’’
Long said the proposal, at this point, is for up to four stages with the two fields facing the cannons being used and one area that’s tucked into the woods. The festival would not impact the ballfields, tennis courts or playground areas.
If the festival ultimately goes ahead, Oakie said they would be aiming to hold the multi-day event around mid-August.