Dancer Jo Pace

Record attendance at this year’s Desert Daze Festival

Organizer Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan is thrilled by the turn-out, the great musical line-up, and the wide variety of vendors.

The seventh annual Desert Daze festival, which took place in Spences Bridge this past weekend, was a “fantastic success”, says coordinator Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan.

“Attendance was way up; we had the most people we’ve ever had. I’m confident that we’ll surpass our goal of breaking even.” While the final numbers are not yet in, Varcoe-Ryan estimates that some 300 people attended all or part of the two-day event, up from around 200 in 2015. “Judging from the fullness of the festival grounds, 300 people is about the right number. We want it to be an intimate, small town festival that’s affordable.”

Attendees take shade to the shade while enjoying the music. Photo by Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan.

The weather cooperated, as long as you like hot weather, she notes. “It really was Desert Daze.” There were a record number of vendors on hand, with an “amazing” lineup of food vendors; some of whom packed up early because they ran out of food. There was also an impressive array of arts and crafts vendors; most of them local, but some from further afield. And the music was, says Varcoe-Ryan, fantastic.

Two festival-goers enjoy an offering from one of the food vendors. Photo by Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan.

“We had lots of compliments about the music, and the really nice variety. And people liked the way it eased into evening, with mellower music paving the way for music that let people get up and dance.” And she really appreciates the support for local musicians. “It’s great to hear our talented locals play.”

The musicians also had great things to say about the festival. First-time Desert Daze performers the Chris Buck Band said they really appreciated the warm welcome and the way they were treated. “They’d love to come back.”

Tanya Lipscomb, aka Kiki the Eco Elf, delights a young fan. Photo by Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan.

The weekend went off without a hitch, and Varcoe-Ryan says that while there was lots of local support from Spences Bridge and surrounding communities, there were a lot of unfamiliar faces in the crowd. “I had a stranger come up and tap me on the shoulder and say ‘Thank you; it was a fantastic festival, so well-run, and we had such a great time.

“Everyone was there to have a good time. So many people said it was the best one ever. We’re going to be having a debriefing meeting, to talk about what went well and what needs work; but there’s no reason not to have another festival next year.”

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