Events, Fernie, Music

What is Wapiti?

May 3, 2011

You know how for years people in Fernie have been complaining that “Fernie needs a music fest” or “Why doesn’t Fernie have a music fest” or “Man, I can’t believe everywhere else has a music fest but us”.  Sound familiar?

Well Kevin McIssac decided to get the ball rolling and invited a small group of key community players to help him create this long-awaited party. All of the committee members are volunteering a considerable amount of their own personal time to bring this festival to Fernie.  The volunteer festival committee breaks down like this:

Matt Brasseau  – Owner of the Brickhouse.  He is booking acts and dealing with divas, rock stars and some space cadet agents.  He came on board to tackle this end of the festival. Matt is well connected and experienced in the music business from operating nightclubs and pubs for the last big number of years in his professional life, he’s also a musician himself to boot.  

Paul Michael – He has spent most of his life cruising from one festival to the next all over the world. You could call him an expert Music Festival Attendee. His advice and imput has been invaluable to the team, oh ya and he’s a doctor.

Troy Cook – aka Big Bubba. Fronts the band Big Bubba Tres. You really haven’t lived in Fernie until you have been doused in confetti at one of his shows. His music taste, his experience in putting on shows and his frank commentary has been one of the committee’s biggest assets.

Pierre Dupont – Pierre is the dude that owns the new gourmet cheese shop, “La Grand Fromage”. He also runs the Fernie Scotch Club, you gotta love this guy already! He has taken on the boring stuff that no one else wants to do, like paperwork, tax research, crossing t’s and dotting lower case j’s. The committee really appreciates Pierre.

Kevin McIssac – Remember how awesome the Taste of Fernie was? Kevin lead that team to success every year. Recognize the name? Of course he’s the “Answer Guy” to all your computing issues in the Fernie Fix. Kevin has also been a city council member for the last 3 years. He probably logs about 400 hours of work in a week. Without Kevin, we wouldn’t have Wapiti.

Chantel Souliere – Chan runs a local ladies fashion boutique called Freyja. With that she is automatically connected to what is cool and hip these days. She brings a wealth of experience in throwing successful events and how to market such events. If you see Wapiti  Twittering or Facebook updating – that’s Chan telling the people what’s up.

That board has been meeting 3-4 times a months since September 2010. Now it is May 2011 and after many meetings and more emails than the complaint department at Telus. The committee is extremely proud to present Wapiti – Fernie’s Music Festival.

Why do this? Why not?! It’s an opportunity to create some economic activity to Fernie is the summer months. It’s a prefect opportunity to bring Fernie together and put on a great show and create something lasting in the community.

Are they making money? Wapiti is a not for profit organization.

Why did they decide to call it Wapiti? Well this was the ultimate debate. Fernie Mountain Music Festival, SoundFest, Elk River Jam and others were tossed around and then tossed out. Coming up with a name was probably the hardest part. In the end, a bottle of Jagermeister was the inspiration. Jagermeister has an elk head logo, and the committee thought, “Damn that looks cool”. Wapiti is another word for elk, we have lots of elk here, we are in the Elk Valley, it has a nice one word ring like Sasquatch Music Festival does, so that’s basically how the name landed and stuck.

Is Wapiti just for this year? Heck no, the plan is for Wapiti to start small and every year gain momentum, bringing more and more economic activity to Fernie. Plus the bands will get bigger and bigger – Awesome!

Who goes to Wapiti?  -Everyone! But as Wapiti is so new and so fresh, its first year is really designed around it’s #1 customers – the locals.

What kind of music is Wapiti – The committee had a vision, the name of the vision was Canadian Indie. If they could have booked any band and the budget was not a problem then they would have booked Arcade Fire, Neil Young, Metric, you know? that feel of a festival. However, Wapiti has started out with zero dollars. So, said bands above were not an option, maybe one day with your continued support! They looked to what people in Fernie were listening to, they tuned into CBC Radio 3, they looked to what bands in the past had rocked Fernie – and they went making phone calls from there. You won’t know the line up until the Line -Up Release Party at the Central on May 13th.

Where will Wapiti it be? – In Annex Park.

When? – The evening of Friday August 19th, then from noon on Saturday the 20th to 11pm.

Cost?-Early bird weekend passes are $30. Yep just $30. If you wait too long and they sell out of early bird passes then you are looking at $45 for 2 days.

What’s up with this Line Up Release Party? So important! And so much fun! Wapiti needed a little fundraiser and more importantly needed a proper kick off party. So they called up Fernie’s  friend Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and said “hey come down here with your 8 piece band and have a party with us as we announce the line-up for our festival” and he was like “wow thats sounds amazing count me in”.

So it’s all happening! Friday May 13th at the Central. Tickets are $20 – Proceeds going to Wapiti and you get one helluva concert and the first to see who is playing the fest! Snap! Plus you could win weekend passes to the festival.

Naturally people scramble last-minute and due to the Northern closing for the month of May, this is shaping up to be the party of the month. Id get tickets fast. Tickets for sale at Midges Mags on 2nd Ave.

Who else is involved? Once the key board members get the initial start-up stuff out-of-the-way, other volunteers are going to be needed to fall under different departments. They need lots of volunteers. They need people for directing traffic and parking, sign makers, beer can openers, ticket takers, security, etc etc. They are going to need a solid crew, and volunteers will get rewarded with a pass. If you can offer your time and skills, send an email to Chantel if you think you can help please do, this is Fernie’s fest we are all in this together!

Like the Facebook Fan Page for updates and information and Follow on Twitter – Official Website!

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