I’ve attended a number of festivals throughout my life, and although Boonstock was one of the dustiest, druggiest, and most disorganized; last weekend in Penticton was one of the best of my life.
After hosting their first 9 years in Alberta (with plenty of problems) and eventually getting booted out, BC seemed reluctant to accept the festival’s move from the get-go. After having their initial security company drop out on them and being denied a liquor licence, it was clear the event would be a shit show – but I still don’t think anyone realized exactly how much.
With an expensive, unorganized shuttle, disgusting outhouses and useless VIP passes, it felt like Boonstock tried to make up for lost profits by charging extra for everything. Even a small bottle of water cost up to $6. Without the liquor license and with the addition of the EDM stage to the usual rock lineup, it seemed like most of the crowd was on drugs. Tragically, one young Albertan girl overdosed the first night. Unfortunately, this seems to be a sad reality for all music festivals. When I worked at T in the Park in Scotland, eight people died. Eight. People. Died.
Instead of complaining, blaming, or shutting down the festival, there are improvements that can be easily made: seed the campground to keep the dust down. Allow vehicles to leave and re-enter. Increase the staff and police presence. When I attended Soundwave in Western Australia, there was endless free water and sunscreen being dished out at obvious and plentiful first aid stations.
The weekend was so incredible for me mainly because of the people I was with. Go with the right people, have the right intentions, and think ahead. Staying safe is as much the participants responsibility as it is the festival organizers and police.
Clear, clean Skaha Lake saved me from the choking dust that cloaked the campground. After showering in the lake every morning and napping on the beach, my friends and I sang along to Dallas Green and Rise Against, moshed to Wolfmother and GOB, danced to Armin Van Buren and laid in a hammock listening to Krewella. I crowd surfed to “Sail”, danced on my boyfriends shoulder during Cash Cash, and raved barefoot in a bikini on the beach stage as volunteers soaked us with water guns. None of that would’ve mattered if it weren’t for the friends I shared it with. As with everything, your experience depends on your attitude. I might not be back next year, but I know I’ll never forget what I can remember of Boonstock 2014.