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Otalith festival chimes solid family times in Ucluelet

"To have access to this kind of talent is an incredible treat,” Jay Gildenhuys told the Westerly.
Ucluelet locals Danielle and Ava Thompson had a ball while basking in the Otalith Music Festival’s family-friendly atmosphere on August 20.

The West Coast was filled to the gills as Ucluelet hosted a sold-out Otalith Music Festival crowd.

This year's event was celebrated Aug. 20-21.

The popular outdoor festival, which first launched in 2013, has grown into an immensely popular feature on B.C.’s music festival map and its family-friendly vibe has made Otalith a key destination for young parents eager to share musical experiences with their kids.

“On the [promotional] video, that was one thing that sold us; we saw a mom with a little toddler in a carrier dancing late at night and we thought that would be perfect for us,” Wes McVey of North Vancouver told the Westerly News at Saturday’s fairgrounds.

McVey had bought tickets to a different music festival for his wife Jennifer Montis’ birthday but those tickets had to be returned when the couple learned their newborn son Wallace wouldn’t be allowed in.

“We found out you can’t bring little kids,” he said. “It was no good for families, this [Otalith] is.”

The new parents were celebrating some time off together and McVey said Otalith’s venue, and the community it’s housed in, provided the perfect spot to spend it.

“We’ve got some time to surf and enjoy a music concert where little guys are welcome too,” he said. “We’ve got shade, which is huge for this little guy [Wallace]. It’s not crazy loud, people are friendly and it seems pretty family oriented.”

Tofitian dad Jay Gildenhuys was equally stoked on the child-friendly atmosphere and touted the festival’s organizers for creating a winner.

“It’s an incredible event with an insane venue and terrific talent,” he said. “It’s organized so incredibly well and I think it’s a perfect match for Ucluelet.”

He added the festival has brought big value to the Coast’s locals and the region’s reputation.

“It’s incredible for the people who live in Ucluelet and Tofino. To have access to this kind of talent is an incredible treat,” he said.

“It’s a great thing for Tofino and Ucluelet as well because, obviously we have the natural beauty, but it also shows how culturally diverse we are here and how passionate and interested we are in music and everything else you see here, from the local vendors to the restaurants and stores.”

Sierra Legebokoff recently moved to Ucluelet but is well-familiar with Otalith as she has attended the past three and said she consistently enjoys the festival’s “good vibes.”

“I love it and it’s going to be my yearly tradition,” she said.

Nanaimo’s Zak Chaboyer and Rowan Legebokoff were both in awe of their first Otalith experience and promised they would “definitely” return next year.

Legebokoff said “the party, the people, and the small town vibe,” made her fall in love with the festival and the West Coast.

“Everybody’s a friend you haven’t met yet; you just have to say, ‘Hi,’” she said.

Otalith was a hit amongst its performers as well and Victoria-based disc jockey Justin Doyle—DJ Mt. Doyle—was all smiles after his first Otalith performance on Saturday.

“This place is amazing...It was a sunshiney afternoon set and it was just fantastic,” he said adding he was expecting a welcoming crowd and wasn’t disappointed.

“Everyone here is very friendly and openminded to, not only rock, but a little electronica and every style of music. There’s a lot of great people and good music fans here.”

He added he’d be “honoured” to play at next year’s event.

While this year’s festival saw a significant increase in attendance, goers behaved themselves and caused little trouble for local police, according to Const. Jarrett Duncan of the Ucluelet RCMP.

“It was busy. There was lots of people in town for sure but, for the most part, everyone enjoyed themselves in a respectful manner,” Duncan said.

“There was lots of liquor and lots of people walking around but Otalith did a good job of having the appropriate security to help mitigate the people drinking in public.”

He added the festival’s organizers also did well to set up a campsite for festivalers across the street from the fairgrounds.

“They went from the Otalith festival straight to the campground, so that definitely helped mitigate a lot of calls for service for us,” Duncan said.

“It gave them a spot to hang out, have fun and then, at the end of the night, it was just a walk across the road to where you slept...It was very well controlled but it definitely was bigger than last year; that’s for sure.”



Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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