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Squamish comes alive for festival

Go beyond Live at Squamish to see all community can offer

LIVE at Squamish will be bringing sweet sounds and grooves to the corridor for three days this weekend, and what's more, it will bring thousands of revellers — and their money — to Squamish.

Beyond the music of Tragically Hip and The Sheepdogs, the town itself is putting on a show that will tempt people to look beyond the Loggers Sports Grounds and Hendrickson Fields, where the festival is being held.

Stan Matwychuk of the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association says its own festival, a "cultural and musical event" called On the Street, will be a chance to celebrate the weekend and introduce visitors to the restaurants and stores in the downtown, as well as offer a little extra fun for those wanting to explore.

"Essentially, On the Street is trying to piggyback on LIVE at Squamish, and we saw it as an opportunity to get a festival of our own going," Matwychuk said.

On the Street takes place on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Cleveland Avenue and kicks off with an Elks pancake breakfast sponsored by Chef Big D's. Local bands will be playing throughout the day at the nearby O'Siyam Pavillion, and there will be a Kid's Zone with chalk art and face painting. There is also yoga in the park and slacklining.

In terms of finding goodies and bargains, shoppers will be greeted by sidewalk sales from the downtown's locally owned retail stores and the Squamish Farmers' Market.

"Everyone wakes up in the morning at LIVE at Squamish and wants breakfast. We've found that Zephyr Café's sales go up 200 per cent and Chef Big D's line can go down the street," Matwychuk said.

"If we get one per cent of the visitors to town coming out to see us we're doing great. A couple of hundred dollars is a big deal to our small business owners."

Matwychuk himself has built mobile art walls to allow local artists, including himself, to showcase their abilities.

"We're part of the BC Culture Crawl and I'm going to be painting and anyone else is welcome to take part," he said.

The Squamish Arts Council has three events that local visitors can enjoy over the weekend, said spokesperson Zoe Evamy.

I Love Squamish is an interactive exhibit where amateur and professional photographers can add photos of the town and region to a display that celebrates the scenery, lifestyle and people.

And Into the Woods with Red Riding Hood with 30 participating artists continues, curated by Krisztina Egyed. Both exhibits are located at the Squamish Arts Council Building 37950 Cleveland Ave, in the pavilion park, next to Farmers' Market.

The Foyer Gallery at the nearby Squamish Library has the works of climber/photographer Rich Wheater and the stone sculptures of Patrick West.

"The marketing and media attention that the festival receives around the province and nationally is invaluable, it is an event like this that puts Squamish on the map as a destination and brings thousands of visitors who without the festival may not otherwise visit Squamish," said Lesley Weeks of Tourism Squamish.

She also hoped visitors would take advantage of the region's outdoor attractions, such as rock climbing and hiking, visiting local lakes and parks, even white water rafting and "flightseeing" at Squamish Airport.

Last year, LIVE at Squamish ran for two days, with 8,900 festivalgoers on Saturday, Aug. 20 and 7,700 on Sunday, Aug. 21.