Sea to Sky music festivals are community affairs 

Co-operation key to successful growth

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As the Squamish Valley Music Festival (SVMF) plugs in for its fifth installment, organizers are taking a cue from some of their international big brothers.

"You look at any of the great festivals that happen around the world, the host communities are almost always very engaged," said Paul Runnals, SVMF's executive producer.

This year's festival will once again reach beyond the festival grounds, with last year's On the Street party expanding from one day to three. It takes place on Cleveland Avenue in downtown Squamish, and offers live entertainment, sidewalk sales, and a pancake breakfast on Saturday and Sunday morning.

"For people who haven't been down to the festival yet or can't make it in for whatever reason, we want to be able to have the experience of the festival extend beyond the fence lines and out into the community," Runnals said.

The festival is also reaching out to local businesses, suggesting they get involved with discounts for people wearing festival bracelets or something more creative.

"We're encouraging people to be creative and come up with good ideas, so we'll see what the community comes out with," Runnals said.

While businesses — specifically restaurants, bars and hotels — are sure to benefit from a near-doubled town population during the SVMF, there are benefits beyond pure economics, said Christine Bennett, executive director of the Squamish Business Improvement Association.

"I think the whole community benefits from the additional people in town visiting and the international exposure that the festival brings to Squamish itself," Bennett said.

The Pemberton Music Festival, recently revived after its one and only outing in 2008, is hoping to follow a similar outline.

"I think this year with the festival coming back to Pemberton, it still is a building year, and something that we're all going to be learning from," said Karen Ross, president of the Pemberton Chamber of Commerce.

"(Festival organizer) Huka Entertainment has worked closely with the business community as well, and has given opportunities for local businesses to set up on site (and) have a vendor operation there."

Another benefit of having the festival return is the influx of temporary workers living and spending money in the area — up to 500 in total.

"Anybody coming into Pemberton for the first time especially is really taken aback by how beautiful it is here," Ross said. "I'm hoping that they will get a chance to get off site, maybe take the bus into town, and have the opportunity to look around."

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