Langford All Ways Home music fest marks first time back on stage for many acts

MUSIC

What: All Ways Home music festival, featuring Jesse Roper, Current Swell, Carmanah, Bedouin Soundclash, Snotty Nose Rez Kids and more
Where: Starlight Stadium, 1089 Langford Parkway
When: Saturday Sept. 4 and Sunday Sept. 5
Tickets: from $69 per day to $155 for a weekend pass with field access from allwayshomefestival.ca/tickets

While other large events have become casualties of the pandemic, a local duo is going ahead with a music festival this weekend that will mark the first time on stage in more than a year for many of the performers.

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The All Ways Home festival, featuring local and national acts, is headlined by locals Jesse Roper and Current Swell as well as Snotty Nose Rez Kids and Bedouin Soundclash. The two-day event at Langford’s Starlight Stadium will be the first music festival in the region since the pandemic began.

Stephen Franke, who organized the festival with business partner Morgan Brooker, said the acts are thrilled to perform in front of a live audience again.

“If the place had a roof, it would blow off. Everyone’s just incredibly excited,” Franke said.

The festival was inspired by talks with the City of Langford about having Metchosin’s Jesse Roper play a show. It grew into a weekend event with 13 acts and up to 4,000 people in the audience, said Franke, who with Brooker manages several of the local groups in the lineup through their management company, Blue Heron.

As they started thinking about putting on a show for Roper’s fans, they realized they could pull off something bigger, if COVID restrictions allowed. The conversation started more than a year ago, when many expected the pandemic would end relatively quickly and live music would soon return, Franke said.

The province’s announcement that outdoor events of up to 5,000 people would be allowed as of July 1 gave the pair the green light to start planning.

“We just realized that we had the time, we have the capacity, and it’s something that people want, so we decided we should pull the trigger and take on this ginormous challenge,” Franke said.

They’re limiting capacity to ensure enough space for the audience to be distanced, with up to 2,500 people allowed in the field around the stage, and the rest in the bleachers.

Pandemic restrictions limit outdoor events to 5,000 people or 50 per cent of normal operating capacity. The stadium can hold up to 9,000 people between the bleachers and the field, Franke said.

Other events have been cancelled or indefinitely postponed recently after B.C. delayed a move to Step 4 of the reopening plan due to rising COVID-19 case numbers. Franke said he’s aware there’s some worry about attending large events, but he said people should feel safe attending the festival, given the amount of space at the stadium.

“Putting on an event to 4,000 people when we are using the field and all the grounds, we think there’s plenty of room for people to stay apart. No different than going downtown to a patio or something, because there’s so much room there,” he said.

Masks won’t be mandatory in the outdoor venue, except in the washrooms, which are indoors. Free masks and sanitation stations will be available throughout the stadium.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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