By Thursday more than 10,000 festival-goers, volunteers, staff, crew and artists will have descended on Salmo River Ranch.
This year marks 15 years since Shambhala began and with only days until the festival is booming, executive director Corrine Zawaduk could only describe the feeling at the farm as one thing: busy.
“Things are really ramping up,” she said. “[Monday], we had many volunteers starting to arrive and vendor crews. The stages are all hubs of activity, getting ready for the final push. Everywhere you look, people are smiling.”
Organizing a festival for more than 10,000 people doesn’t go with out a lot of preparation and training.
Zawaduk said there has been a few major training sessions in the past couple days including for their team leaders and Shambassadors who roam the festival grounds making themselves available to help attendees if they are lost or need help getting around.
“The volunteers and staff are just really happy to be here,” she said. “More are coming up tomorrow. Stages are doing tech runs, so at night we’re getting glimpses of what their visuals are going to look like. Sound systems have started to arrive. There is constant activity around the clock.”
With people assuming positions like the Shambassadors, Shambhala has created a strong sense of community at their event, which is different than what is seen at festivals of a similar size.
“Our attendees consider each other family, or ‘farmily’ as the terminology is out here,” said Zawaduk. “There is a real close-knit feeling, even among thousands of people. Shambhala really brings out people’s desire to be kind to each other, and connect with one another — they’re eager to participate in sharing the ‘Shambhalove.’”
Zawaduk began the festival 15 years ago with her siblings Jimmy and Anna Bundschuh.
The family, who had moved to Salmo from Kelowna, began doing dinner theatre-type events and began to work on similar ideas.
The siblings began hosting festivals and parties at the farm and after one festival left, Jimmy told his sisters that they could organize and host a festival.
“We never could have imagined how far we’d come when the festival first started 15 years ago,” said Zawaduk. “Selling 10,000 tickets was such a lofty goal when we first started. It’s interesting — a lot of things we have incorporated into the festival over the years have grown from seeds of ideas in the early years. I look back on my old notebooks, and I see these ideas we had back then, and many of them have become reality five or 10 years after we initially wrote them down. It’s amazing to see things that begin as dreams become reality.”
Among the talent arriving this weekend is Pretty Lights who has played to audiences at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music Festival and played at Sasquatch in Washington State earlier this year.
American rapper Chali 2na who was formerly with Jurassic 5 will also be playing Shambhala this year at the Rock Pit.
There are a lot of old favourites returning this year including world music, electronic favourites Delhi 2 Dublin, Longwalkshortdock, Smalltown DJs, Vortex and Gisto.
While Shambhala’s mantra is “it’s all about the people on the dance floor,” Zawaduk described the Shambhala experience as “a celebration of music art and life, where you are free to be who you are.”
Shambhala begins Thursday and runs until early Monday morning.