Twang on in Cavendish

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

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.

Twang on.

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