Festival season is in full swing in the Bulkley Valley, and this year will see the return of a newcomer from last year to the local festival roster.
Aug. 17-19 will mark the second official year of the Hazelton Hootenanny, an event put on by the Music and Agritourism Society of Hazelton (MASH) at Bulkley Canyon Ranch.
Festival director Laurie Gallant said they have been able to expand due to partnerships with Emergency Support Services, the Bulkley Valley Arts Council, and the Spirit of the North Classical Music Festival, which will also take place over the weekend.
“[The Orchestra North Academy is] actually coming to our festival on Sunday and putting on two workshops and a performance. We’ve never had that before. The musical spectrum is way broader this year, it’s like everything from hip-hop to classical music, which I don’t think you’re going to find at a lot of other festivals.”
Gallant said the Hazelton Hootenanny will also be unique in terms of size and focus.
“We’re on a bit of a different model, so we never really want to have more than 500 people, and even 500 might be even too much … We want to keep it more intimate and low-impact, because it is on a farm. We find that’s kind of exciting, too.”
The small size of the festival is due in part to the farm’s environmental ethics.
“We’re a farm that’s based on permaculture, which means that we have three guiding principles for the work that we do: ‘earth care, people care, and fair share.’ … We’re going to have a lot of zero-waste systems set up. There’s going to be lots of recycling, lots of composting bins, even all of our toilets are composting toilets,” Gallant said.
”Last year, two days after the festival, you couldn’t even tell that there was a festival there.”
“The infrastructure for our festival is so minimal, even the stage gets deconstructed and eaten by the animals because it’s made out of hay … We’re really proud of that, we like that, we like the multipurpose and the stacking of the functions.”
There will be farm tours, beer gardens, local vendors selling locally-sourced food, and a selection of workshops geared towards the festival’s performers.
“That was a part of our original vision when we first thought of having a festival, that it would be more a workshop for the performers themselves so that they can not just come in, play their gig, and then leave and go to their next gig. Like, they actually want to stay,” Gallant said.
She promises the Hazelton Hootenanny will have music and activities for all ages.
“I just want families and people that are looking after children to know that there is a space there for them, and there’s special pricing available for youth and kids [under 12] are free.”
For ticket prices, directions, and a schedule of the weekend’s events visit hazeltonhops.com.
Tickets are being sold at Mountain Eagle Books and the Bulkley Valley Brewery in Smithers, Zelda’s Travel Mug Café in Hazelton, Sherwood Mountain Brewery in Terrace, and Wheelhouse Brewing which is in Prince Rupert.