The Valley’s own Rock of the Woods fest finds its footing

What: Rock of the Woods featuring Five Alarm Funk, Bear Mountain, WiL, Bit Funk, Sam Weber, Jordan Klassen, Vince Vaccaro and more
When: Thursday through Sunday
Where: 4383 Irvine Dr., Sahtlam (near Duncan)
Tickets: $40 (Thursday), $50 (Friday), $65 (Saturday), $20 (Sunday) and $150 (four-day pass) at Lyle’s Place (770 Yates St.), Mill Bay Pizza, Duncan Music, Lucid Records (Nanaimo), and ticketzone.com
Information: rockofthewoods.com

 

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Festival organizer Dave Bain has established a few planning priorities during his six years at the helm of the Rock of the Woods festival. The most important one? It never pays to skimp on staff.

Bain has learned it takes a unified team of 11 managers and 60 volunteers to manage his four-day music festival, which plays host to 160 musicians from 42 musical acts on a 15-hectare site running alongside the Cowichan River. With another edition on deck this weekend, Bain will put his experience to good use as his event turns a spotlight on dozens of acts flying just under the radar in the region.

Bain had his pick from 1,500 applicants, so the groups that made the cut have earned their spot, he said.

“We started this festival to give a showcase to bands that didn’t necessarily have opportunities in front of them that would put them on music festival stages. That’s what we’ve been about since Day 1, and that’s what we’re continuing.”

Local highlights such as Labs, DJ Low, Man Made Lake, the Dylan Stone Band, and Zoubi and the Sea, among others, will join headliners Five Alarm Funk, Bear Mountain, WiL, Bit Funk, Sam Weber, Jordan Klassen and Vince Vaccaro on the Sahtlam site starting tonight. The event runs through the weekend.

Rock of the Woods is free of any concerns from a municipal standpoint, having received final approval from Cowichan Valley Regional District in February to go forward with a three-year plan.

The festival, which is held on private land, endured years of turbulence due to neighbour complaints, but those should be a thing of the past, thanks to changes to the site, Bain said. Local RCMP, ambulance and fire departments have approved the site.

“Those are the people who are going to deal with any issues arising, so that is where we have been focused, making sure those groups feel very comfortable with the event.”

The journey to get there was “incredibly tough, stress-wise,” Bain said, although the work was worth it in the end. A resident of the area, Bain is proud to showcase the Cowichan Valley, while giving its residents something they can call their own.

“We showed that there was overwhelming support for a festival that represented the Cowichan Valley. It was a challenging position for us to be in, because we were creating bylaws as we went and working with the CVRD to make a set of standards.

“We’ve gone through the most intensive process I’ve ever been through, and I’ve done a lot of festivals on a lot larger scale than this. But because of that reason, we ended up with a very safe, community-friendly event.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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