Wild Mountain now setting its sights on 2021

File Photo
The 2020 Wild Mountain Music Festival has been officially cancelled due to provincial health measures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, so festival goers will have to wait until the 2021 event to see headlinders on the main stage. 

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

The Wild Mountain Music Society is setting its sight on 2021 after their 2020 festival was cancelled due to the current COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings in Alberta.

“We still have grant applications we can put in and get that going. Keeping a good relationship with our sponsors. And that gives us a little bit more time hopefully to start nibbling away at bands for next year,” said Layne Seabrook, president of the society.

With an extra year to plan, crews can spend more time on maintenance work on the stages and stores at the site, Seabrook said. While the society tried to remain positive about the situation, they are disappointed they won’t be welcoming back festival goers.

“It is too bad, it kind of interrupts the rhythm of our weekends in July. That’s just what you do, you book your weekend off for the Wild Mountain…” Seabrook said.

Due to the early uncertainty around the festival last year, organizers realized that there was a percentage of people that held off because they were under the impression that it was cancelled or they weren’t quite sure what the quality would be, according to Seabrook.

“We were quite excited about seeing those 20 or 30 per cent back at Wild Mountain again this year,” he said, adding that the event  normally attracts between 2,500 and 3,000 people every year. 

Seabrook added that a few society members would like to put on a show for the community once public gathering restrictions are expanded beyond 15 people.

“We would like to put on a show for the community. Just to get everyone back and reintroduce them to social life again,” he said.

Details of this event are dependent on what happens with the pandemic provincially and organizers will solidify any plans once guidelines change.

Seabrook added that the concert would likely showcase local artists and be a one-day event.

Sponsors of the festival have remained supportive and about 80 per cent have left their investment with the society for the 2021 festival. On top of financial investments, the society also has in-kind sponsors who are still fully committed.

Fortunately, the society was still in negotiations with most of its bands for 2020 and hadn’t paid any deposits yet.

“Normally it’s 50 per cent of the cost down, especially for headliners. Because we were still in negotiations we weren’t at the deposit part of it. We didn’t have any deposits to lose,” Seabrook said.

The way booking talent works is that the society first puts in an offer with any headliner, committing 50 per cent of the money until they accept or decline. They can only work with one headliner at a time to manage their budget, which is why the process takes some time.

They originally pushed to book a headliner by the end of January, which ended up not working out and they had not solidified a headliner since.

He added that the society will definitely keep bands lined up for 2021 that had committed to them in 2020. Since the 2019 Wild Mountain Music Festival was such a success and through the generosity of corporate sponsors, the society was able to put away some money, which will now all go towards 2021.

“We were able to have a decent amount of money in the bank. [The pandemic] hasn’t affected that at all,” Seabrook said.

Around 50 tickets were already sold for the 2020 festival, and more than half of those ticket holders want to keep their tickets for next year. Organizers are still finishing things up from the preparations of the 2020 festival, but all members will remain in their positions, Seabrook explained.

An annual general meeting (AGM) will be held in October and three board positions will be up for renewal or election. 

Contact Rob DeRoo at (780) 699-2641 for a refund of 2020 Wild Mountain tickets or to make arrangements to honour them for Wild Mountain 2021.