Despite cool temperatures and significant wind on Aug. 7, a unique float-in concert on Lake Kathlyn is being hailed as a success by organizers.
“Given the weather, I was very pleased with the turnout,” said Lake Kathlyn Float Fest founder Thom Barker. “The music was great and everybody seemed to really enjoy it.”
The four-hour concert was conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic as a safe way to hold the kind of live event that people have been sorely missing for a year and a half.
“What a fantastic day on Lake Kathlyn,” said co-organizer Heather Gallagher. “Thanks to Thom Barker for his idea of a Float Fest and to the McCrearys (Bonnie and Al) for providing an amazing venue for the bands to perform. At one point in the festival on a windy, whitecapped day, there were 80 boats that paddled in to take part. Thanks to the kayakers, paddleboarders and others whose presence made the day magical; the musicians who were all local and extremely talented from jazz to rock, sea shanties to punk.”
Over the course of the afternoon, there were many more than the 80 boats Gallagher counted.
Lake Drop Inn owners Lorna and Tom Butz, who were handing out free smokeys, cookies and lemonade courtesy of Bulkley Valley Wholesale, said they saw at least 300 people at their dock. They distributed 220 smokeys and close to 400 cookies.
Including lawn seating for sponsors and other invited guests on the site of the fest itself, organizers estimate approximately 450 people took in at least part of the show, which included four local bands interspersed with solo performers between sets.
The lineup included the bands West Rock, Zanna and the Zigs, Horn and Whiskey Rose. The in-between acts were Edward Quinlan, Dorothy Giesbrecht, Wolfchild and Steve Angel.
The event was free due to the financial support of the Bulkley Valley Community Arts Council, Regional District of Bulkley Nechako and Bulkley Valley Credit Union as well as in-kind support from a number of other sponsors.
Barker would not commit to a second annual event.
“I honestly never thought this thing would evolve as it did or that the response would be so special,” he said. “If we do it again, there are a lot of things to work out and we will need more people do it. There are some people with some great ideas to make it even better, but that’s a discussion for another day.”