Sarah Burns Photo
Over the years, a lot of locals have invested time, money, and energy into the Wild Mountain Music Festival and when it looked like this year’s festival could be cancelled, they worked together to keep the music playing at the Entrance Ranch.
After a rocky start, the event turned out to be a success, said Layne Seabrook, president of the festival.
The previous board was left feeling frustrated as the festival continued losing money throughout the past five years.
“They made the decision to either shut it down completely or take the year off,” said Seabrook.
After the board resigned, members from the original crew who started the festival 12 years ago, rallied together and held an AGM to establish a new board.
The new crew went into research mode in January to find out why the festival was failing and found that big headliners did not increase their ticket sales for the amount they invested in the artists.
Seabrook explained when he was vice-president on the board in 2013, “Our band budget was $138,000 that year and our tech budget was probably like $30,000, and then it goes up to $280,000 [with big headliners]. But our ticket sales were almost identical across those seven years.”
After speaking to sponsors and looking at surveys they found that people in Hinton didn’t really care about the big band names.
Sponsors just wanted to see the community out there, while volunteers wanted to feel useful, said Seabrook.
In March, the organizing crew finally felt confident to go ahead with the festival and began booking artists.
“I held off to booking and putting in offers until I felt comfortable that if I would put in an offer it was because it was real. And that was right around March,” said Williams.
With such a short period of time to plan the festival, the community stepped up and helped put wheels under the festival.
“It just shows how amazing these people are, with the amount of time that we did everything and the execution,” said Williams.
A sponsor later asked Seabrook how he felt about the festival this year, to which he responded, ‘fulfilled.’
“In our hearts we believed that Wild Mountain was wanted here and needed. I know I need it, and I know there are a lot of people in the community that feel the same way,” said Williams.
“We added more positions to our board of directors and put all our coordinators in those positions,” said Seabrook.
Williams stepped up to his normal duties as artistic director and took over marketing as well.
Barb Marchant, a vice principal at Father Gerard Redmond Community Catholic School, took on the busy role of vice president, while Rob Deroo worked on getting sponsors.
“Our budgeted amount for corporate sponsorships was $20,000, he raised $130,000. With help from others, of course, but that was his baby and he blew it out of the water,” said Seabrook.
Williams added that their current budget reflects their reality and determines which artists they book for the festival going forward.
“We’re back to where we are in reality and just the right thing to do is grow organically. We’re not going to superimpose a budget,” said Williams.
Next year the festival will be held again on the third weekend of July, and they look forward to welcoming everyone out to the field again.
With twelve months to plan, instead of four, they feel that people won’t be disappointed with the lineup.
“I kind of envision next year probably that we will be able to bring a bigger headliner for the friday night, stay about the same size of Colin James around that area the saturday and something like Harry Manx on Sunday night,” said Williams.
Currently, they are working on their financials before Williams gets back to work to book a lineup for next year.