Country music festival coming to Castlegar

Kootenay Country Music Festival will be held in Castlegar over the Canada Day long weekend.

A country music festival is headed to the Kootenays this summer. Both the City of Castlegar and production company Pangburn Philosophy were excited to announce that the festival will be taking place on the Canada Day long weekend.

The Kootenay Country Music Festival will be held at the Pass Creek Fairgrounds on July 1-2, 2017 and feature headliners George Canyon and Aaron Pritchett. The rest of the lineup includes Jason Benoit, Me and Mae, Dakota Pearl, Union Duke, Jackson Hollow, Gary Fjellgaard and Castlegar’s own Lisa Nicole.

Castlegar city councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff thinks the festival has great potential to benefit the area. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for Castlegar,” she said. “The economic spin off is going to be tremendous. It is an opportunity to get Castlegar and the area on the map.”

Festival organizer Travis Pangburn has Kootenay roots himself, having grown up in Kaslo. In fact, the Kaslo Jazz Festival was a big inspiration for him as a musician. This is reflected in his company’s philosophy of creating art inspiration in communities. Pangburn eventually performed in the jazz festival himself. “That kind of launched me into an entertainment career and really inspired me to do well at music,” said Pangburn. “It really opened my eyes to the entertainment industry.”

Pangburn’s older brother Adam lives in Castlegar and is a big country music fan. He has been pushing his brother to put on a festival in the Kootenays for a while, even though Travis Pangburn’s company primarily produces shows in the Vancouver area, at the rate of about one each month.

Pangburn did his homework before going ahead with the idea. An analysis was run on the Kootenays to gauge its appreciation for country music including how far people had to travel to hear good country music. “We realized that people were spending a lot of money to do that in the summer,” said Pangburn.

“We are going for quality as opposed to quantity with our line up,” explained Pangburn. “We wanted to bring in really high-end acts to this festival. That is going to be our mantra moving forward.” Pangburn plans to make this an annual event and already has some “really big names” lined up for 2018. “The festival is just going to get bigger and bigger as we move forward,” he said.

Pangburn is expecting 5000 people to attend the festival in the first year, with increasing numbers in future years. “A huge passion of mine is bringing artistic inspiration to the Kootenays in general and trying to help bolster the economy,” he said. “I know a lot of local businesses can really benefit from festivals like this.”

Plans are now underway to sort out the logistics of bringing that many people to Castlegar at once including special transit for the festival and activating properties to be used as campgrounds or RV parks. “It is going to be really well laid out, we are not sparing any expense in making sure that this festival is near perfect — even for the first year,” assured Pangburn. “I am dedicated to investing what I have to in this to make it an event that is going to be a staple event for the Kootenays that everyone is going to want to come and experience.”

The plan for the atmosphere at the festival is to be one that would appeal to all ages. “That was really important for me — my number one goal and demand is that this be a family friendly festival,” emphasized Pangburn. “That is the mood and feeling that we want to have behind this festival. The acts that we bring in will always be all-age friendly.” There will also be other onsite entertainment and activities such as games and other interactive features during the festival.

More information about the festival can be found at kootenaycountryfest.com. That is also where you can purchase tickets. Pre-sale discount tickets are available until Dec. 16, adult tickets are $127.50 for the weekend, youth (13-18 years) are $70 for the weekend. Regular rates are $150 for the weekend for adults or $100 for a single day, youth (13-18 years) $82.50 for the weekend and kids 12 and under are free, but must have ID to prove age and be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

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