Shake the Lake moving downtown for two of three days

Efforts to make this year’s Shake the Lake the best in the festival’s six-year history have been well underway for more than a year now

Efforts to make this year’s Shake the Lake the best in the festival’s six-year history have been well underway for more than a year now, according to festival co-ordinator Sean McIntyre.

Organizers began planning this year’s edition of the hugely popular family-friendly action sports and music festival last July — one month before Shake the Lake 2012 had even begun.

Doing so has allowed them plenty of time to carry out preparations for moving the festival to its new beachfront location in downtown Sylvan Lake, where live music, skateboarding, vendors and family activities will occupy the green space just south of the pier for the festival’s first two days.

“The biggest thing I’m excited about is bringing (the festival) downtown,” said McIntyre. “We’ve sort of been drawing people off the beach for five years, and now we’re combining those two attractions (Shake the Lake and the downtown area).”

McIntyre feels the new location will create an enhanced festival atmosphere for the three-day festival, which begins on Aug. 9.

Previous years have seen events spread out around the downtown core.

“The more spread out we are as a festival, the more disconnected people seem to get,” said McIntyre. “We’re actually shrinking the space and really trying to get that festival atmosphere where everyone is together and having a good time.”

On Sunday, Aug. 11, festival action will be moved to Sylvan Lake Multiplex, where enhanced BMX viewing opportunities will be offered.

BMXers will benefit from the large open floor space inside the multiplex, while spectators there could potentially find reprieve from excessive heat or pouring rain, said McIntyre.

A mixture of both local and nationally-recognized musical talent will take to the stage at Shake the Lake. The lineup includes indie-folk rockers Hey Ocean! and Victoria, B.C.’s Acres of Lions as well as other acts from Central Alberta and across the country.

With attendance of 1,000 in its 2008 inaugural year, Shake the Lake has grown remarkably, and attracted crowds of more than 10,000 people in recent years.

A growing festival creates a growing need for volunteers and McIntyre is grateful to have so many people willing to help with preparations and at the event.

“(Shake the Lake volunteers) have been working so hard, we’d be lost without them,” he said, adding he’s been blown away by volunteers’ level of commitment.

About 300 volunteer shifts are required for the festival to run smoothly, he said.

Another key area in ensuring the festival’s success is sponsorship, which has grown along with the festival’s popularity.

National sponsors now join local businesses in supporting the event, and ensure the festival remains accessible to everyone.

“We want to put on a great festival in our town, and it’s so important that it’s free of charge so that it doesn’t matter what your family’s financial situation is, you can come and have a great time for free,” said McIntyre.

Importantly, local businesses whose properties lie near the festival site have also been co-operative, he added.

A small number of fine details remain to be finalized, said McIntyre, who, along with other organizers and volunteers have been “working frantically” to ensure the festival is a success.

“Our team is working really hard to make sure everything comes together and it’s the best festival we’ve put together yet.”

A complete schedule of events will be available on the festival’s website at shakethelake.ca, on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/shakethelake and through Twitter at https://twitter.com/shakethelake.

The festival will take place rain or shine, according to McIntyre.

“Everyone’s invited and it’s totally family friendly,” he said. “It’s going to be the best festival we’ve ever done.”