Cancelled but not forgotten. The festivals need your support

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Photo by Destination BC/Michael Bednar


We’ve all seen the news reports on a few spots around BC and Alberta that are battling wildfires. While the rest of us just cancel plans to visit the areas, let’s not forget about the people who call these communities home.

At FestivalSeekers, our role is to promote festivals everywhere throughout B.C. and Alberta but a majority of our festivals are from regions like the Cariboo in like Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, and Horsefly, where sadly the fires are hovering too close to ignore. Safety comes first, so Arts on the Fly in Horsefly, Billy Barker Days and Skyfest in Quesnel and the Art Walk in Williams Lake are all cancelled for this season.

Cariboo Region
Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt

There are many ways you can support the folks that are being affected by the wildfires and your first stop for donations is the Red Cross British Columbia Fires Appeal. Your money will go to help the residents recover.

It’s heartwarming to see how the musicians that were booked to play at Arts on the Fly Festival rallied with amazing speed. Since many of them reside in Vancouver, they quickly planned a fundraiser for Horsefly in Vancouver on July 15 – the weekend the event was cancelled.

But moving forward, after the fires are gone, after the media focuses on other events, these communities will still need support. If you planned to go to those festivals this summer, call two friends and plan to go next year. Festival and tourism organizers will need your continued attendance to make sure they survive and continue to operate.

Here is what you can plan to see next summer

Billy Barker will be back

Billy Barker Days
Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt

For the first time in it’s 44-year history, the Billy Barker Days in Quesnel was cancelled to ensure the safety of the participants and the guests to the community. Make sure you put it on your calendar for the third weekend of July 2018. Why? It’s the largest free family festival in B.C ., with free entertainment throughout the entire weekend. It also includes auto races, amateur rodeo, the downtown vendors’ walk and entertainment that lasts well into the night.

Classic Cars on a Hot July Night

Hot July Nights
Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt

The purr of a V8 engine, the gloss of a perfect paint job, the reflection of your smile in an abundance of chrome and the scent of oil-rich exhaust is the dream scene for vintage auto loving gearheads. Be prepared to watch more than 200 cruisers, classics, antiques, choppers and hot rods pull into 100 Mile House next July for the annual Hot July Nights.

The international airshow will return to the skies over Quesnel

Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt

With the Quesnel airport designated as a fire support base, it is impossible for the airshow to consider hosting an event. So the organizers are considering two options at this time. They are mulling over whether to postpone until 2018 or plan another event this summer.

“The decision is a heavy one to make at this point,” says Jerry van Halderen of the Quesnel Skyfest Society. “We hope that spectators, sponsors and performers and all those impacted by this decision will exercise compassion and understanding.”

A rescheduled festival this season may conflict with the hectic Canada150 calendar for the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team, the SkyHawks and the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds. BUT maybe Skyfest can request a Canada151 event next summer so we can all head back to support the community and festival.

Arty the Art Walker of Williams Lake will return next year

Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt

Usually the last half of August, the downtown streets of Williams Lake are abuzz with art. Arty the Art Walker and 60 businesses invite local artists to show their works to entice shoppers to stroll through the stores and maybe add a masterpiece or two to their own collections. Next year, the event will go on and your support will be appreciated even more. Watch the Williams Lake Art Walk Facebook page for new announcements.

Arts on the Fly has wonderful fans

Arts on the fly
Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt

Reading the comments on the Arts on the Fly Facebook page regarding the cancellation of the festival this year shows just how important this festival is to so many people. The outpouring of support is fabulous. “The only decision you could make, but still so, difficult, and so much work,” says Christie Mayall. “Bigger and better next year,” says Betty Jackson.

With all those posts, there was one by Jen Hodge that might have been the catalyst to get the fund raiser going in Vancouver. “West Van types who would have been at the fest, what about having some kind of potluck on Saturday since we’ll all presumably be around.”

With such an outpouring of sympathy and support, you know the Arts of the Fly will return next summer to Horsefly and it will take over the town as usual with four stages of live music, workshops, a vendors’ market and lots of food. Make sure you go – it will be a love fest for sure.

Please show your support

We know the people of the Cariboo are a tough bunch and will make it through this wildfire season stronger than ever. Please toss a donation at the Red Cross. And when the “We’re Open” sign goes back up, go visit, attend a concert or a festival. Or, cruise the highway in that two-tone 1956 cherry red Bel Aire and park along the creek at 100 Mile House during a hot July night next summer. They will thank you many times over.

Donate to the Red Cross British Columbia Fires Appeal and show your support for the Cariboo region.