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Thousands of people gathered for the 2015 Cavendish Beach Music Festival.
©Mitch MacDonald/The Guardian
NORTH RUSTICO, P.E.I. – The plan to keep a similar approach to this year’s Cavendish Beach Music Festival will be a sweet sound to many residents and business owners in the area.
Officials with Whitecap Entertainment, which puts on the festival, along with service providers spoke about their blueprint for this year’s festival during a public meeting in North Rustico Monday night.
It seemed as though this year will follow a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach after a number of significant changes to the logistics in 2016 saw positive feedback.
“After last year’s festival, we heard loud and clear ‘don’t change a whole lot’ because a lot of the implementations seemed to work,” said Whitecap Entertainment president Jeff Squires.
The implementations came out of public meetings following the 2015 festival, where a large number of residents and business owners shared concerns over crowds getting out of hand, public drunkenness, trespassing and logistics with the festival’s parking.
Some of the improvements have included subcontracting a security group to keep an eye on properties near the festival site and allowing festival-goers to pick up their bracelets in advance.
The festival will also continue using its parking plan from last year, which resulted in reducing the backlog of concert-goers leaving the festival at the end of the night.
The impact of those changes led to a very different atmosphere during last year’s festival, which resulted in only a few residents attending Monday’s meeting.
The one member of the public who spoke at the meeting was business owner Sandi Lowther, who is also president of Tourism Cavendish Beach.
Lowther praised “monumental improvements” to last year’s festival, although noted that with the large volume of concert-goers there will likely still be some issues and asked for more public education regarding trespassing.
“If that could be addressed, it would be lovely — not just trespassing within the campgrounds but neighbouring areas as well,” said Lowther.
Sgt. Leanne Butler said RCMP will meet with campground owners and security to go over the trespassing act and said other residents and community members can access the document online.
She said RCMP will also be staying the course with its approach to the festival.
“We decided to use the same number of resources in the same capacities as last year. It worked very well for us,” said Butler. “We’re going to be proactive by being in the campgrounds before the concerts start, so we’re high visibility.”
The concert itself has also begun emailing a “community code of conduct” to everyone who purchases a ticket.
Matthew Jelley, chairman of the resort municipality, said last year’s changes resulted in minimal negative impacts on the community during the festival.
“So we want to make sure that we don’t change too much of that,” said Jelley. “It’s not about letting up or reducing the resources that are put into it, it’s about continuing to build on the success of last year.”
The meeting also saw officials from the provincial transportation department, liquor commission and fire marshal’s office share their plans for the festival. Although there were some minor tweaks, all officials said they were keeping operations similar to last year.