Story and photos by Jim Brown
A public meeting soliciting feedback on the July 5-7 Cavendish Beach Music Festival drew a sparse crowd, with just 12 people dropping by the North Rustico Lions Club, including Island Senator and Cavendish resident Mike Duffy.
The July 29 meeting, chaired by Linda Lowther, Deputy Mayor of the Resort Municipality of Cavendish, ran just shy of 26 minutes.
Facing the 12 attendees were six officials, including an RCMP officer, Resort Municipality CAO Brenda MacDonald, a representative of the PEI Liquor Control Board and a Cavendish Beach Music Festival spokesperson.
Though there were was little damage caused to the community by rampaging country music fans feeling their oats, that doesn’t mean some in the resort municipality didn’t face the prospect of economic loss.
For instance, the owner of a cottage business who reported several guests who booked accommodations for last year’s festival decided not to go this year after learning the lineup, featuring top acts Carrie Underwood and Eric Church, was less than stellar.
“My guests said the shows were okay but the lineup wasn’t as good as they expected,” wrote the owner in a letter to the resort municipality, one of three submitted.
“They said they’d rather pay more money – up to $50 more for a three day ticket – and really enjoy the lineup.”
They didn’t want to spend all that money “to come to Cavendish and pay for accommodations and travel to get a mediocre lineup.”
The cottage business owner went on to say the paying guests of seven of the 11 cottages in 2018 had signed up for 2019, but once they learned this year’s lineup in November, they cancelled, asking instead to be put on the list for 2020.
“They said the lineup wasn’t worth coming for. They also said Canadian artists are not that good in most cases and that the festival people need to bring in better Canadian artists.”
But the business operator was impressed with this year’s crop of CBMF guests, saying they were very well behaved, “I had the best bunch ever.”
Jeff Squires, CEO of Whitecap Entertainment, the company that produces the CBMF, had a different take.
“I would suggest music is subjective. The festival will continue to showcase Canadian talent and all that it brings to the table,” he said.
Mr Squires said Atlantic Canadian and PEI musicians “will continue to be provided with more opportunities to learn and grow and develop their craft at the highest level…that is our mandate and something we are very proud of.”
Other attendees raised concerns about power outages around the time of the festival that led to inconveniences for guests, such as toilets not flushing at a campground.
One four hour outage ran for the festival’s first day, though it was not directly tied to the festival.
Senator Mike Duffy who has followed the 11 year history of the festival, told officials: “I’d say it’s the best year yet…the residents certainly appreciate it down our way.”
Others said instances of intoxication and other bad behavior associated with earlier years was way down.