It came. It went. And, for the most part, it was awesome.
With over 20,000 people attending LIVE at Squamish's third year, Squamish had one of its busiest weekends ever. All the hotels were booked solid, the restaurants were slammed and, despite a hefty highway traffic jam on Saturday, it was a positive experience for festivalgoers and townsfolk alike.
"It was a fantastic event and a good economic generator for the community," said acting mayor Ron Sander.
Close to 12,000 people turned out on Saturday, which boasted a lineup including the Tragically Hip, Chromeo and The Sheepdogs. On Sunday, between 8,000 and 9,000 people turned out to see City and Colour and Mother Mother. On Friday night, another 3,200 people turned up for the pre-festival "hootenanny."
While the Sunday numbers were lower than organizers would like to have seen, executive producer Paul Runnals says that in terms of atmosphere and festival experience, 2012 far exceeded their expectations.
"What the experience was on sight was absolutely what we sought to create," Runnals says. "If there was anything that didn't quite meet our expectations, or our hopes anyway, it was seeing ...(fewer) people there on Sunday."
He says local ticket sales picked up dramatically in the days leading up to the festival, so much so that they had to restock Sea to Sky merchants selling tickets.
"What we don't know is if those were locals buying them or others who learned they could save service fees by buying locally," Runnals says. "It could be a mix of the two, but regardless, it was good for us to see them get moving."
He says organizers will also be looking at how Saturday morning's four-car accident on Highway 99, which clogged the flow of northbound traffic for several hours, affected audience numbers.
"Did we lose anybody to that whole traffic debacle, like people who bought tickets but never showed up? I don't know the answer yet but it's something we want to look at," Runnals says.
The traffic "debacle" caused serious delays for organizers, with artists, security, first aid and other festival personnel stuck in traffic along with festivalgoers. Everyone showed up at once as a result, which, says Runnals ,caused staff to scramble.
But by early evening, everything appeared to be running smoothly. Aside from the considerable lineups in the beer garden, which caused some flared tempers, Saturday evening had a very positive vibe all around.
Outside the festival grounds, very few festival-related incidents were reported over the weekend: two Squamish youths attempted to break into the festival on Friday evening and Sander says someone vandalized some trees downtown, though he admits that may not have been directly related to the festival.
Otherwise, the town was humming. It's this vibrancy that has inspired overwhelming support for the festival from locals.
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