Merritt takes great pride in it’s country music and one of it’s crown jewel is the Rockin River Music Festival. The four day musical showcase has always been one of the biggest attraction the city has in the summer time, attracting people from all over the country, and some in the U.S. There were a lot of people that rejoiced when the festival made its return after a two year break, and that it would continue to become a regular fixture again every summer. Unfortunately, a recent announcement by the Rockin River organization stated that it will not proceed with the festival in 2023, leaving Merritt again without it’s beloved summer event. 

It was announced late on Friday, January 27 by the Rockin River Music Fest organization that it won’t be hosting the annual celebration for 2023. The organization explains that the compounding financial hurdles became insurmountable which led to the decision. 

“Over time we have been met with a series of obstacles that we tried our best to overcome,” said Rockin River on their official Facebook post. “In the end, we have made the decision to not move forward with the festival in 2023.” 

Rockin River is just fresh off its return in 2022. The festival had been on a two year break prior to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the B.C. floods of 2021, which only added to the festival’s financial challenges. 

“With the rise in cost of entertainment and everything else, we needed a lot more people,” Rockin River Founder Kenny Hess said about last year’s turnout. “I would estimate that the turnout was about 30% less than what we expected or needed. Combined with the losses we’ve suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic and everything else, the numbers just couldn’t add up.”

Hess told the Herald that he had taken a back seat with his role in the festival, stating that Live Nation, Jukebox Entertainment, and the Rockin River organization have the more active role and were responsible for deciding to cancel this year’s festival. 

“Though it wasn’t up to me, I would’ve still made a similar vote to cancel, as I agree that the numbers don’t make sense to continue,” Hess noted. “I want to thank Merritt for being so good to us and want to express how sorry we are that we couldn’t continue to do the festival this year.” 

Though the festival won’t be happening this year, Hess maintains that the door is always open for the possibility of its return in the future.