LIVE at Squamish rocks cash registers 

Businesses enjoy increase in visitors and spending over two-day festival


With a crowd of 13,000 people rocking to some great music acts, last weekend's LIVE at Squamish festival lived up to its motto with panache.

It was indeed happy times in a big field with great music. The weather was cool and breezy and with the Stawamus Chief as a background the festival turned out to be a memorable event for those who attended it.

When it was first proposed, the LIVE at Squamish festival could not escape uncharitable comparisons to the Pemberton Festival. But by the time the two-day festival wrapped up on Sunday it was clear those comparisons were unfair.

"I was there with my family for both days at the LIVE at Squamish," said an enthusiastic Squamish Mayor Greg Gardner. "The venue was just spectacular with lush grounds and the stage fringed by the Squamish Chief. The Squamish community was involved in the sponsorship and I'm very hopeful this will continue on an annual basis."

Tejinder Bhullar hopes for that, too. Bhullar, the owner of the August Jack Motor Inn in downtown Squamish, said all 38 rooms in the motel were sold out on the weekend. The motel had to turn away more than 50 people.

"I think if we had had triple times as many rooms as we have now, we still would have had to turn away people," Bhullar said.

Since people are wrapping up vacations and preparing kids to go back to school, September is often slow for most motel owners. The two-day LIVE at Squamish festival came as a boon for hotel business.

Even though his campground was several miles away from the festival grounds in the Squamish Valley, Ali Abolfathi had no shortage of customers. They came from places as far away as Calgary and Edmonton.

"There was a 10 to 15 per cent jump in our reservations and these people were really nice too. They partied at the festival, came back to sleep and then went back to party again," Abolfathi said.

If the motels and campground were full, businesses downtown also saw an increase in activity, although some believe food stalls and a beer garden on the festival ground itself might have prevented more people from coming downtown.

At the Grilled Fromage in downtown Squamish the weekends are often quite busy, but last weekend they were prepared to handle more customers.

"A lot of people came with the LIVE at Squamish wristsbands on their hands, so we know where they were coming from. We had good business this weekend and anything that promotes local business is great," said Carrie Colak of the Grilled Fromage.

However, she said the number of people on the streets downtown didn't increase as much as she or other businesses would have liked. That was a view shared by Gelato Carina owner Carina Fischer.

"Business was better in the day, but in the evening it was not as busy," said Fischer.

But downtown Squamish was not the only place where brisk business was being done. In the Garibaldi Highlands Mall the restaurants - especially fast food joints - heard the cash register ringing.

"We were really busy this weekend," said Emiesha Walsh of the Fatburger. "I'd say we saw an increase of 50 per cent in this weekend."




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