With an open-air concert and BMX and skateboard competitions, the fifth annual Shake The Lake served up plenty of ear and eye candy to all who attended.
The festival, which took place last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the multiplex and area nearby, was free and open to all ages.
According to festival coordinator Sean McIntyre, Shake The Lake’s accessibility sets it apart from similar events.
“It’s free fun for everyone,” said McIntyre, citing the festival’s Family Zone, shopping, music, and sports competitions as examples. “We want to put on a party that everyone can come to.”
McIntyre came up with the idea for the festival with some friends in 2008. The Coors Light Trauma Tour which had taken place at the Sylvan Lake pier in previous years left a “bitter taste” with some people, said McIntyre. Specifically, he said, some residents didn’t like paying to access the beach, and didn’t like how the event was not suitable for families. McIntyre wanted to create a festival with the music and sports competitions of Trauma Tour, but without the bikini contest and alcohol served. He also wanted the event to be free, so that everyone, regardless of income, could attend.
“In order to do that, it takes an incredible team of volunteers who are willing to take a whole year to plan it,” said McIntyre. “That’s what Shake The Lake really comes down to, is volunteerism.”
It takes a huge amount of planning and time to put on the festival. Coordinators help organize skateboarding and BMX competitions, music, security, and finance, among other areas.
“We all want to see something great happening in our community and we’re willing to take it into our own hands,” said McIntyre. He added that planning has already begun for next year’s festival. “The volunteers were absolutely incredible. I’m floored by the quality and calibre of the volunteers.”
To fit with the event’s family-oriented ideals, all the bands performing must agree not to swear. Hundreds of bands applied to perform this year, with 30 making the final cut. McIntyre said talent and quality of the bands are the most important attributes organizers look for when choosing performers. Family friendly considerations and compatibility with the rest of the festival’s music are not far behind.
“We pick the bands that have a good attitude,” said McIntyre, adding that every band they’ve chosen has been great to work with.
Musical styles this year ranged from hard rock, to folk, to hip hop. Musicians came from around the country, and one band (The Classic Crime) came from Seattle.
“We had a good variety of acts,” said McIntyre. “The bands that are applying have a good idea of what we’re looking for.”
Not all the performers are compensated. McIntyre said some bands agree to play for free to gain exposure.
“The bands still get a good reception and we’ve had great reviews from those guys,” said McIntyre.
Athletes registered to compete in the skateboard and BMX competitions had an area to relax, where they received free drinks from Red Bull and vitamin water. Competition winners received a cash prize.
While festival attendance numbers have not been finalized, McIntyre estimates 8,000-9,000 people showed up over the three-day period. Attendance was measured with wristbands distributed to everyone who came to the event.
Lance Dela Rosa came from Red Deer to attend Shake The Lake. He said he enjoyed his first year. He belongs to a band, and hopes to perform at the event next year.
Dela Rosa is friends with members of Half Chance Heroes, a Red Deer-based band that performed on Saturday. He came to the festival to show support for them. He said he will likely return to Shake The Lake next year.
“It’s a great way to close the summer,” said McIntyre. “We hope everybody had a great time and enjoyed the festival.”