Festival looks to be more inclusive of other art

The Central Music Festival Society is putting their year off to good use.

The Central Music Festival Society is putting their year off to good use.

On Saturday afternoon, they held an organizational meeting and discussed how the festival can be revived with a new energy to catch the attention of local music lovers.

This includes the strong possibility of a name change with the strongest contender being the Red Deer Music and Arts Fesitval.

“We think that maybe part of the problem is Central Music Festival is a bit to ambiguous,” said society president and festival producer Mike Bradford.

“We’d like to make it more inclusive of other types of art. We have a huge site, we have the potential to do some great things for the community.”

The festival will make its return in August 2015 and Bradford says they are working towards a budget of more than $200,000.

This means they will need to average about 1,000 people a day for the three day festival.

At the last festival in 2012, they averaged between 500 and 600 patrons a day, so they have their work cut out to make the festival viable.

One possible advantage to the new date, is it will be over the same weekend of the Edmonton Folk Fest which sells out quickly every year. So Bradford is hoping those who cannot get tickets to the Edmonton show will be intrigued by the show 90 minutes south on Hwy 2, complete with free parking and camping.

In addition, he is hoping that some acts will view it as an opportunity to double-up with two close shows on the same weekend.

However, nothing is set in stone yet.

“They sell out in two hours, so there is the potential there,” said Bradford. “I have a relationship with the producer there that goes back 25-30 years.”

The key to making the festival a success is getting younger people excited and engaged with the festival. In the six years that the festival did run, they spent about $100,000 on advertising, but the results did not show in attendance.

They will continue to focus on bringing in Canadian and Alberta-centric acts, but still want to bring in big names.

In past years they’ve had acts like Shane Yellowbird, The Trews and Ian Tyson.

“We want to get something that’s really going to get people enthused,” said Bradford. “We have to be careful what we do and we’ll see exactly how things turn out as we go forward.”

Attendance has been a frustrating hurdle for organizers to overcome as they believe they have all the ingredients of a great festival, including a natural amphitheater in a rural setting.

“The only thing we’re missing is the people out there,” said Bradford. “A lot of people are working hard, and what we are actually creating here is a cultural legacy for Red Deer.”

The society will continue to fundraise for the 2015 festival with a potential New Orleans-themed gala at the Elks Lodge on Sept. 13, Ian Tyson on Sept. 21 at the Memorial Centre, Chip Taylor on Oct. 9 at the Elks Lodge but this will also help keep the festival in the minds of the public and to slowly build it up over the next 15 months.

They are looking for volunteers to help with the festival and their up coming events in all facets of the program from fundraising to administration to promotion.

To get involved contact Bradford through their website at www.centralmusicfest.com

jaldrich@bprda.wpengine.com

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