By Vanessa Broadbent
Osoyoos Music in the Park’s fifth season was its busiest yet, with twice as many people attending as in previous years.
The free weekly summer concert series at the Gyro Park bandshell saw an average of about 700 people come to each show this year, compared to 352 last year. All 10 shows saw a combined 6,500 people.
“We usually sit at the front and the first time we kept turning around and going ‘look, people are still coming,’” organizer Janis St. Louis said.
The attendance spike is most likely a result of a major increase in online promotion, and support from Destination Osoyoos, St. Louis said.
Organizers took to Facebook to share the concert series poster, which ended up reaching nearly 15,000 people. They also posted regular updates on upcoming shows.
“We were just a little bit more direct in our promotion,” St. Louis said. “Word got around and now that it’s in its fifth year, people know that it’s Friday nights . . . I think it’s just knowing about it more now.”
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An increase in funding, provided by the Town of Osoyoos’ share in the provincial Resort Municipality Initiative, allowed organizers to book only bands instead of artists using backing tracks. The result was a consistently high caliber lineup.
“We wanted to step it up a bit because it’s a wonderful bandshell and it’s easily accessible from motels and hotels and wheelchair accessible,” St. Louis said.
While the lineup ranged from classic rock to Celtic, country shows were the most popular. Taylor-Rae and the Backseat Drivers brought in 926 people, the largest audience of the concert series to date.
Normally, to keep things fresh bands only perform the concert series two or three times. But some, like Cod Gone Wild, Hillside Outlaws and the Yard Katz are fast becoming local favourites and are expected to make a return.
“You want to change it up a little bit . . . but if people really like a band there’s no problem,” St. Louis said.
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And the bands keep wanting to come back too – this year the concert series had 45 applications from performers.
“People love coming to Osoyoos, we’re lucky for that. It’s a beautiful place and when they’re on stage they’re looking at the lake and the mountains,” St. Louis said.
“The one thing different this year, we had bands filming the crowd. They were singing and then they’d take their phones out and start recording us.”
St. Louis noted that the Town of Osoyoos and its staff have been instrumental in the concert series’ success, especially in providing the Sonora Community Centre as an alternate venue in case of rain.
Along with fellow organizers Debbie Dundass and Roland Berg, St. Louis will start planning the sixth season in the fall and next year’s lineup will begin to take shape in December or January, and be announced in the spring.