Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival will continue... for now

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      The annual Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival—which takes place each year at Deer Lake Park—was nearly on the chopping block this month.

      The 23-year-strong festival—which has played host to acts like Feist, Shakey Graves, Lord Huron, and even local blues acts such as Rich Hope and His Evil Doers—came into question at a City of Burnaby culture special events program review on February 26, with a recommendation that the festival be scrapped and replaced with a new one.

      One possible reason for wanting to can the current event is its dwindling attendance numbers and profitability. Last year’s festival saw a decline in numbers, even though the City implemented free admission. It was attended by 7,582 festival goers, but had a price tag of $685,765.97.

      With that said, City documents indicate it was “record attendance.” It was definitely a significant increase from 2022, when 5,588 people attended, but down from the recent 2018 peak of 8,738 revellers. Deer Lake has a capacity of about 9,000 people.

      In contrast, other festivals in the city, Sounds like Summer and Summer Stages, saw nearly 14,000 attendees and cost the city $240,484.22. 

      Luckily for fans of the Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival, city councillors (which includes D.O.A frontman Joe “Shithead” Keithley) voted to keep the festival alive for at least another year—and recommended seeing if the usual one-day romp could be expanded into a weekend-long fete. 

      So the festival, which works with Live Nation to bring talent to the Deer Lake Park stage, will live to see its 24th birthday.