July 6, 2019
Duncan is "A Rather Fun Place to Be' - New Rules For Kids at The 39 Days of July.
The organizers of the 39 Days of July Cowichan Summer Festival have been harshly criticized on their publication of festival etiquette in the 2019 festival programme. Rick Martinson, Duncan Cowichan Festival Society President recognizes that the message fell short of the intent and he apologizes for any misunderstanding.
Longevity John, the festival Artistic Director, says, "It basically comes down to everyone being respectful of all the folks who attend this amazingly long funtastic music festival. We were trying to be light-hearted about not distracting the listening audience and performers, but we never intended to compare kids to tomatoes." He adds that using the word "discipline" conjures negative connotations and wasn't what they were trying to convey. He articulates that, "our biggest concerns are for the enjoyment of everyone and to maintain the safety issues around the venue. I just want people to understand that every year we have upped the professionalism of this festival and I want everyone - performers, audience and crew - to have an exceptional experience, respect the craft of the musicianship and go home with a great impression of Duncan and this festival."
As for the reported "moratorium" on dancing, Dr. Ted Cadillac, sound technician, said "we have seen many families with children enjoying the festival without disturbing the performance. The play area has been packed and gleeful laughter wafted to the stage with no problem. We had 800 people attend the Big River performance at City Square on Canada Day, and people of all ages were up dancing." And during events in Charles Hoey Park, people can dance. Even the designated play area has quality sound so everyone can enjoy the stage performances from all seating areas provided.
When she heard the news about the etiquette policies, Mayor Michelle Staples, who has children of her own and has attended the festival with family many times over the years, was taken by surprise. "As a parent I wasn't thrilled by what I was hearing, once I asked festival organizers for more information and was given clarity around the intention and meaning, I still wasn't happy about the language that had been used to convey the message but I understood it was meant to be lighthearted."
Mayor Staples went on to say, "The City prides itself in being open and inclusive to people of all ages and abilities and supports events such as the 39 Days of July that do the same. Having attended many of the shows at the festival that showcase the talents of the Valley's young musicians, dancers, and entertainers, I knew there must be a reasonable explanation and a way to re-frame the messaging so it was clear that families are indeed welcomed, children are supported, and people can dance." After speaking to the festival's President and being assured that this was indeed the case, Mayor Staples says she is looking forward to heading down to the park and City Square with her family and friends to enjoy this amazing festival.
The 39 days of July continues until August 5th and we look forward to celebrating with the great entertainers who are visiting here.