Shambhala contributes more than just fun from its annual Music Festival

Suzy Hamilton
By Suzy Hamilton
August 8th, 2014

There’s a love fest going on and it’s not just happening at the Bundschuh farm outside Salmo where the 17th annual Shambhala Music Festival takes place this weekend.

Nelson merchants and community organizations are singing a different tune from the early days when the electronic music festival that now draws 10,000 was in its infancy.

“Nelson needs this, it adds to our uniqueness,” says Hume Hotel owner Ryan Martin. “We’re not in a position to tell any walk of life they can’t come here. For me and our business it’s a boon to our economy.”

Martin said the Hume and Best Western hotels fill up within hours after the festival closes Monday to sleep off and relax after four days of 24/7 partying.

“There’s a pilgrimage from Shambhala,” he said. ”It’s the best time to be downtown to people watch.”

This year Martin will post security with phones outside the Best Western to help festivalgoers find accommodations.

“We get better at it every year.”

Or, as retail store owner Nick Smirnow from Still Eagle Planetary Persuasions on Baker puts it: “We get to have two weeks of Christmas in the summer.” Smirnow’s sales sky rocket in the week before and after the four-day festival.

“It’s wonderful. There’s thousands of new people in town. There’s beautiful buskers out front. It’s all quite good.”

This wasn’t always the case. And for some residents, the logistical problems that come with the doubling of Nelson’s population in one week are still irritating.

Many singing the praises of Shambhala admit there are always a few who can give it a bad name.

But in 2006, Shambhala owners Anna Bundschuh, Jimmy Bundschuh and Corrine Zawaduk decided to share the wealth with Nelson and area to offset the inevitable annoyances that come with transient crowds.

“Increased population of the region is always going give rise to both criticism and praise,” said Shambhala’s communications officer Mitchell Scott.

Since 2006 Shambhala’s contributions to Nelson and area have been substantial with a donations list including:

  • $15,000 to Kootenay Lake Hospital’s $1.2 million CT scanner
  • $15,000 to Nelson Skate Park
  • $100,000 to upgrade Selkirk College’s Tenth Street Campus Theatre, renamed the Shambhala Music Centre
  • $10,000 worth of recyclables to the Salmo Legion and Salmo Ski Hill
  • Materials for the Salmo Community Centre and Skate Park
  • Food and money to Nelson Food Cupboard and Our Daily Bread soup kitchen
  • Purchase of Savoy Hotel to become an entertainment center, no date announced for opening

Currently the festival is in the process of making a donation to the Trail Hospital Foundation to provide acute care training for medical staff.

“We are interested in supporting youth culture, music and the arts and the health community in Nelson and area. This is determined on a need to need basis as presented by our communities contemporary challenges,” Scott said.

Of course the recent deaths at Pemberton and Boonstock in Penticton has organizers preparing for “anything and everything,” said Shambhala communications officer Mitchell Scott.

“Nothing is changing here as a result of Pemberton,” said Scott. “We’re ready for anything and everything.  Over the past 17 years we have put a lot of effort into all our systems.

All of this earned Shambhala the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce Business of the year three years ago.

“We looked at the economic impact of this festival,” the chamber’s executive director Tom Thomson told freelance writer and The Nelson Daily City Hall reporter Bill Metcalf in a story published in the online Tyee in April.

“We looked at how well-organized it is. This was not a contentious decision.”

That’s not to say everyone’s tickety boo with the population that descends on Nelson. One restaurateur recently posted that he was unhappy with the lack of tipping that accompanied the transient visitors.

But generally, restaurants, grocery and hardware stores, hotels, and retail stores experience a boom pre and post festival Thomson said.

“Shambhala is sharing the wealth. They’ve come a long way as far as community perception goes,” he said.

“The longevity of the event obviously shows they’ve got some staying power.”

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com
Categories: General