Bluegrass fest hits pause for 2014

The Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival will skip a beat this summer. The 2014 festival has been cancelled so that the board can work on a sustainable long-term plan, the Yukon Bluegrass Music Society announced this week.

The Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival will skip a beat this summer.

The 2014 festival has been cancelled so that the board can work on a sustainable long-term plan, the Yukon Bluegrass Music Society announced this week.

“We’ve agonized over the decision for quite some time,” said board member Shirley Watts-Haase.

The festival began in 2003. For eight years, bluegrass fans gathered in Haines Junction for the annual event.

In 2010, the town passed a bylaw preventing festival-goers from camping on municipal property, and the society decided to move on.

The last three events have been held at the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse.

That venue has been extremely accommodating, said Watts-Haase.

“The staff and everyone at the arts centre have worked really hard to make us welcome and to work with us to create the intimate feel of a bluegrass festival.”

But the board would like to find a permanent home for the event, outside of Whitehorse, she said.

Some fans miss the destination aspect of the event, and being able to walk through a community between smaller, intimate venues, said Watts-Haase.

So the board has hired Michael Pealow and Associates, with help from the Community Development Fund, to plan the future of the festival.

The board has already approached communities around Yukon in search of a new home, and the response has been very positive, said Watts-Haase.

“It’s wonderful to have that kind of interest in the festival.”

Haines Junction is interested in welcoming the festival back, and is one of three communities short-listed as a potential future venue, she said. Carcross and Teslin also made the cut.

Taking a break this year will help ensure that the festival can maintain the quality and “sense of at-home-ness” that fans and musicians have come to expect, said Watts-Haase.

The event has brought in many winners of International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, she said.

“It’s a very popular destination for them, because we treat them with real Yukon hospitality.”

The board is already actively planning the 2015 festival, said Watts-Haase.

Over the next year, the board would like to get as much input as possible from fans and musicians about what they would like to see the in the future.

More information can be found at the Yukon Bluegrass Music Society’s Facebook page.

The annual general meeting will take place February 6, 2014.

The Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Camp that has operated in recent years alongside the festival now has its own separate society.

The camps will run in 2014, from June 9 through 13, according to the society’s website.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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