Twang on in Cavendish
There are strong arguments that the phrase, ‘not in my backyard,’ was first coined on Prince Edward Island. Or, at least perfected here. Islanders are jealously protective of their little piece of paradise and don’t want anyone cramping their space.
And they don’t play favourites – whether it’s a convent in Summerside, a Boys and Girls Club in Montague, a Mi’kmaq office building in Charlottetown or a kid’s lemonade stand in Stratford.
So it comes as a surprise, and a pleasant one, to see all sides singing in harmony about the Cavendish Beach Music Festival (CBMF). At a news conference last week, the festival producer, police, local residents and business owners were all happily commenting about how smoothly it came off in early July.
Police were elated with the well-behaved crowds, and noted that less than a dozen charges were laid over the three-day festival, which attracted more than 50,000 sometimes boisterous music fans.
The CBMF has come a long way since its inception in 2008. There were a lot of nervous people back in those early days. Would the place be overrun with crowds of drunken revelers, would loud music keep everyone awake for days and would there be endless traffic jams clogging roads throughout the Cavendish and Rustico areas?
Businesses wondered if they would really benefit or would music fans stay in Charlottetown and area and only show up for selected shows in Cavendish?
Now, the CBMF is a guaranteed good time. Motels, campgrounds and trailer parks are full. The heart of P.E.I. tourism industry draws thousands of people – young and old - to camp out and party for three of four days. It’s a great weekend to party, mingle, enjoy some tunes and have lots of fun.
Police are willing to let them party as long as things don’t get out of control. Traffic is always the big problem but it’s getting better each year. Entering and exiting the festival grounds is evolving and improving. Local shops, restaurants and businesses are getting lots of traffic.
The CBMF is gaining the well-deserved reputation as THE destination point for early July, up and down the eastern seaboard of North America and beyond. The festival attracts the ‘A’ list of country entertainers, while kitchen parties offer major exposure to numerous Canadian and Maritime entertainers.
Jeff Squires’ Whitecap Entertainment group, producers of the annual festival, has focused on supporting economic growth for the resort municipality of Cavendish. He has co-operated with local residents and businesses to work out problems and address concerns.
The festival has been a massive boost to the Island’s economy, bringing in millions of dollars each July. Every Monday morning after the festival, there are long lineups at the Confederation Bridge.
In a year without outdoor rock concerts in Moncton or Halifax, Cavendish Beach stands out as the Maritime’s major music success story.
There were growing pains but organizers listened, consulted and solved problems. All CBMF partners have a lot to be proud of these days.