Ponderosa Arts and Music Festival round-up

By Contributor
December 3rd, 2013

For those of you who were not at the Rock Creek Fairgrounds this past Labour Day long weekend, you  would  have missed out on an amazing weekend of incredible music, amazing comradery, and unparalleled camping  along the Kettle River. From Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, 2013, the Rock Creek Fairgrounds played home to the Ponderosa  Arts & Music Festival. 

In its first year, the Ponderosa Arts & Music Festival saw artists, musicians, and people from various parts of Western Canada and the U.S. migrating to the small community of Rock Creek, BC for a weekend of live music, arts, and a healthy dose of the great outdoors – something the organizers of the event are calling “Freshness.” 

Organizing a music festival had been a dream of theirs for some years now and right from the beginning, Kris Hargrave and Kia Zahrabi had envisioned Rock Creek as the hosting community. Naturally, the Rock Creek Fairgrounds was the perfect venue, with amazing camping, great facilities, grounds that are meticulously maintained, and a rich history of successful events. Kris Hargrave, is no stranger to the grounds spending many early mornings there getting ready for a big 4-H show and late nights on Fall Fair weekend taking in the midway. 

When it came to booking the festival site, Kris and Kia were very grateful that the Rock Creek Fairgrounds was willing to support two young men with a dream. A dream of bring arts and music back home to the Boundary Region. 

The event took place over three nights and showcased the sounds of 20 of western Canada’s hottest bands plus 6 awesome djs, each finding their own way to please the crowd aurally. From Indie to Funk, Blues Rock to Progressive, or from Latin to Pop, the Ponderosa Festival did not disappoint. 

In addition to the live music, local artists were on site creating paintings over the course of the weekend. The Live Painting Project was a complete success which ended up in several bidding wars to earn the right take home the new creations. One of the canvases painted that weekend ended up selling for $500, all of which went directly to the artist who created it. 

The festival saw the transformation of the DIAS or bandshell stage to the appropriately named, “Pinecone Stage.” 

This stage was the setting for the up-and-coming local bands looking to impress a crowd and expose more people to their craft. Bands that played this stage included Tofu Stravinsky, Synthcake and Great White North. 

The Ponderosa “Main Stage” was setup near the existing ball diamond, with its back facing the Kettle River and valley mountains. At day, people heard the sounds of White Ash Falls, BESTiE, Fields of Green, and Facts. At night, the stage lights shined for The Belle Game, Gold & Youth, Humans and Bend Sinister. 

Food trucks serving delicious meals, local merchants selling clothing and accessories, and even a fruit stand selling fresh local produce, jams, and all-natural soaps – Ponderosa had all the right ingredients for a successful annual event. 

Being Ponderosa’s first year, attendees of the festival generally didn’t know what to expect. They didn’t know that each and every performance was going to blow them away. They couldn’t imagine what it would feel like waking up to the sound of the Kettle River only 50 ft from outside their tent. And there’s no way that they could have expected to have made so many new friends over the course of a weekend. In addition to the remarkable music and the striking backdrop, the sense of comradery was definitely one of the highlights that everyone could agree on. The organizers were proud to report that, with the help of their many volunteers and supporters, the event went off smoothly and safely. 

The organizers of the Ponderosa Arts & Music Festival started this event for the following reasons: 

  • to provide artists with exposure and to introduce others to their craft; 
  • to contribute to the community by supporting the local economy and by promoting cultural activities; and 
  • to share this beautiful part of BC with others without negatively impacting the surrounding environment. 

Community Support 

With plans to prepare for Ponderosa 2014 and to make this an annual event at the Rock Creek Fairgrounds, the organizers understand that having the support of the community is key. It is for this reason that they are keen on working with local businesses and residents to make this event a major success. 

Recent news reports stated that some residents living near the fairgrounds site had voiced complaints of the level of the sound system during the event. To address these issues, festival organizers are looking into potential alternatives to the previous stage setup and/or music schedule. They are currently working closely with their professional stage and sound crew to look at various options including adhering to a maximum decibel level after a certain hour in the night. 


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