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A golden event coming at Bass Coast
As many as 1,000 festivalgoers were allowed on to the site of the Bass Coast festival Thursday (July 7) as part of a staggered opening to the sold out event.
Heading into its fourth consecutive year in Merritt, the music and arts festival is definitely staying gold in more ways than one.
Each year the festival grounds — located on the site of the former Merritt Mountain Music festival — is decorated in the event’s theme, which for 2016 is “gold.”
“Gold relates to a lot of stuff,” said festival spokesperson Paul Brooks. “We are, of course, in Gold Country in the Nicola Valley here,” he said.
Past themes include zebras, mutiny and tentacles.
Gold decor is being incorporated into all three music stages. The main stage will have a golden tree alongside video projection screens while the Slay Bay stage is being set up to look like an alchemist’s lab covered in gold.
Though Bass Coast has become a recurring event in Merritt, this year it’s also breaking new ground.
“We’re sold out. That’s new,” Brooks said. “Production wise [we’re] bigger than ever before [with] more international artists than ever before,” he said.
The festival is expecting its biggest crowd yet at 3,500 attendees. Last year Bass Coast nearly met their capacity of 3,000.
“We’ve been sold out for some time — we sold out at the end of April,” said Brooks. “The interest is incredible this year.”
He said he doesn’t foresee any challenges due to having more attendees than last year.
“We’ve made some changes on site to accommodate these extra people,” he said, noting more washrooms and an expanded site layout.
Initially known as a dry event, last year Bass Coast incorporated a licensed spot to sell alcohol on site and this year there will be two locations.
“The thing is people are going to bring stuff on site, Brooks said. “We search vehicles, and we have a strong security presence, but they’re going to get it on site if they really want to — they’re going to sneak it in somehow — so by allowing some licensed areas on site it allows people to consume [alcohol] within our rules and we can monitor them.”
Bass Coast first aid manager Lon Flath said they are equipped with naloxone kits and are prepared to handle issues such as minor cuts and scraps and drug overdoses.
Brooks said they are not selling any tickets at the front gates, but will make an exception for locals who can prove they are Merritt residents.
Bass Coast will be equipped with food trucks, workshops and various art installations for visitors to enjoy along with a musical lineup that includes groups such as Ardalan, Todd Edwards and Scratcha DVA.
Staff and campers are being allowed into the grounds tonight as all three stages are still under construction.
The festival officially begins Friday (July 8).