If you walked around the maze of tents and RVs at the True North Bluegrass Festival, you would have heard banjos and guitars strumming into the wee hours of the night.
“What’s really very curious to someone who has never been part of this is there are people who don’t go to the main stage at all,” said organizer Rob Hornsey. “For them, it’s all about jamming.”
The inaugural True North Bluegrass Festival, held over the Labour Day long weekend in Maple Ridge, drew more than 1,000 people Saturday and Sunday. More than 150 tents and RVs camped at the Albion Fairgrounds and the festival drew people from all over the Pacific Northwest, the Kootenays, Vancouver Island, Alberta and the Fraser Valley.
“It’s a whole circuit of people who spend the whole summer going from festival to festival and this is always the culmination for them,” says Hornsey.
He and his team of organizers cobbled together the three-day event in the span of four month after learning the Chilliwack Bluegrass Festival was no more. He has a five-year plan to turn the Albion Fairgrounds into a destination for bluegrass lovers.
“Many people said this was a much better venue for them than Chilliwack,” Hornsey added.
“People had rave reviews about the venue and committed to coming back. It was pretty spectacular. The performers were world-class.”
The festival featured seven main acts, including the Crowe Brothers from Nashville, Tennessee and High Plains Tradition from Colorado.
Hornsey and his team set three goals when they decided to host the festival: put on a good show; rebrand the Chilliwack festival and relocate it; and build a network of volunteers, sponsors and supporters to see the festival through for at least four more years.
“I think we achieved those three goals in a stellar way,” he said.