Participants in the rhythm workshop led by Barefoot Caravan at this year’s Desert Daze Festival. Photo by Gary Winslow.

Participants in the rhythm workshop led by Barefoot Caravan at this year’s Desert Daze Festival. Photo by Gary Winslow.

Desert Days numbers were down, but participants had a fantastic time

Planning has already started for the ninth (and tenth!) annual festivals.

The eighth annual Desert Daze Festival in Spences Bridge has come and gone; and while attendance was down substantially from past years, coordinator Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan said that those who attended had a fantastic time.

“The smoke cleared beautifully on Friday morning [August 11], and then it got hot. But the weather was just wonderful.”

Varcoe-Ryan suggests several factors that may have been in play to account for the drop in attendance this year, which she calls unfortunate.

“The highway was closed north of Cache Creek, and Clinton was still under Evacuation Order, so people weren’t able to come from the north. Maybe people didn’t want to make plans, or were worried about the smoke,. And I think a lot of people were just stressed.”

She says that this year’s festival lost money, but they were able to make it up by dipping into a reserve left from a couple of years ago. “We would have liked to have seen even 50 more people. We would have liked to have broken even. We’re a non-profit group, so that’s our goal.”

Sixteen musical acts took to the stage over the two days of the festival, and Varcoe-Ryan says that the people who were there had a great time. “The music was phenomenal. Every year we get people saying that this year’s festival was the best yet for music.

“The calibre of music was very high, and everyone said the music was great. It was fantastic for the people who were there.”

The workshops, held on August 12, were a huge success, with Varcoe-Ryan saying they had to turn people away. “Barefoot Caravan did a rhythm workshop, and then during their performance they pulled people out of the audience, including kids, to take part.” The yoga, beading, cedar bark bracelet, and salsa canning workshops were also hugely popular.

The number of vendors was down this year, but Varcoe-Ryan says the vendors who were there were very good, and that the food was excellent. “The Indian tacos were the most popular item.”

She’s very grateful and thankful for all the sponsors and businesses who donated to help make the festival happen.

“That’s the largest part of our funding. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Asked if there will be a ninth festival, Varcoe-Ryan laughs and says “There will be. And we’re already working on the tenth.”