Organizers of Ponderosa Arts and Music Festival insist they are committed to event for long haul

By on August 13, 2014
Pat Gaetz of Osoyoos is the happy winner of a pair of weekend passes to the Ponderosa Arts and Music Festival, which takes place August 22-24 at the Rock Creek Fairgrounds on the beautiful Kettle River. More than 20 bands are scheduled to perform at the second annual festival. The contest was sponsored by the Osoyoos Times. (Richard McGuire photo)

Pat Gaetz of Osoyoos is the happy winner of a pair of weekend passes to the Ponderosa Arts and Music Festival, which takes place August 22-24 at the Rock Creek Fairgrounds on the beautiful Kettle River. More than 20 bands are scheduled to perform at the second annual festival. The contest was sponsored by the Osoyoos Times. (Richard McGuire photo)

When best friends Kia Zahrabi and Kris Hargrave decided to organize their own music festival, they knew it was going to take some time to get established.

Zahrabi and Hargrave are the founders of the Ponderosa Arts and Music Festival, which returns to the Rock Creek Fairgrounds on a beautiful site near the gorgeous Kettle River, about 60 kilometres east of Osoyoos, the weekend of August 22-24.

Last year’s festival saw roughly 300 people per day attend and Zahrabi and Hargrave are confident they can dramatically improve on those numbers after one year of exposure and moving the festival date up one week and not holding it on the Labour Day long weekend as they did last year.

Both Zahrabi and Hargrave, who grew up in the Okanagan Valley, say they realize building a successful music festival is going to take some time.

 “We looked at a five-year plan because we know you can’t build something like a successful music and arts festival in one or two years,” said Hargrave. “It takes time and we knew all along that we’re in this for the long haul.

“The goal is after four or five years that we have a well-established festival that people all across British Columbia know about.”

Zahrabi and Hargrave decided to organize the Ponderosa Arts and Music Festival after an event that was supposed to attract a couple of dozen friends at the farm owned by Zahrabi’s parents near Oliver ended up attracting well over 100 people.

“That event was such a success we immediately thought about trying a festival … and we spent over a year getting things organized for last year,” said Zahrabi.

Ponderosa is about more than music, he said.

Not only will there by close to 25 bands and disc jockeys playing on two stages, but there is a strong arts component to the festival as artists will be showcasing their skills and selling their work.

Because of the proximity to the Kettle River, participants can also take part in kayaking and canoeing trips and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer, he said.

The combination of music, food, arts and beautiful location all contribute to make Ponderosa something unique for festival lovers, said Hargrave.

“We are striving to maintain a certain vibe and are looking to build a sense of community that we feel has faded from some of the larger outdoor music events,” he said.

This year’s festival will feature numerous recording artists including Plants and Animals, Blouse, BRAIDS, Good for Grapes, Jay Malinowski and the Deadbeats and several B.C. acts including Funk Hunters, Ladyhawk, Gay Nineties and No Sinner.

While there are different genres that will appeal to a wide cross-section of music fans, there’s no doubt the overall musical lineup centres around “indie rock that avoids anything too heavy,” said Zahrabi.

Whenever they get free time away from their full-time jobs in Vancouver, Zahrabi and Hargrave have kept busy organizing and promoting the 2014 Ponderosa festival over the past several months.

They recently attended the Desert Live Music Festival in Osoyoos and also attended the recent Kitsolana Music Festival to promote Ponderosa.

Without going into specifics, Hargrave said he and Zahrabi have “spent a substantial amount of our own money” to organize last year’s festival and get things ready for the 2014 festival.

“We definitely paid all the bands last year and all of the bills got paid,” he said. “Kia and I both realize we were going to have to spend a lot of our own money to make this dream a reality, but that’s something we were both very comfortable with.

“At the end of the day you need enough ticket sales and sponsorship to pay the bills so you don’t have to spend your own money and we’re hoping we’re moving towards that with a successful festival this year.”

Dozens of early bird weekend passes sold out well in advance, which is a very good sign there will be more fans on board this year, said Zahrabi.

The goal heading into the 2014 festival is to attract 2,000 fans over three days, said Hargrave.

There is ample parking and camping on site throughout the festival.

To purchase tickets or find out more about the bands that have been signed for the 2014 Ponderosa Arts and Music Festival, visit www.ponderosafestival.com.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

 

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