Shambhala Music Festival organizers are pleased with how this year’s event ran from its security arm.
Ensuring the safety of its 10,000 paid attendees is a priority and Shambhala executive producer Corrine Zawaduk was happy to hear police noticed a change in how people were leaving the site.
“Three years ago the RCMP approached us to see what we could do to address it and make it better,” Zawaduk said of the concern police had about people leaving and getting in accidents because of being tired. “So we extended our hours by 24 hours and encouraged people to get a good night’s sleep before they go on the road. So often you don’t even realize how fatigued you are, you haven’t been driving for six days and you get on the highway and it hits you.”
Though statistics are hard to pin down, police estimate the education is getting through.
“It’s excellent that it’s actually working,” said Zawaduk. “We try a lot of things, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.”
Shambhala employs 80 paid security personnel who have the ability to search and seize illegal substances. In cases of a more serious nature, police are called to come on site and deal with the individuals causing problems.
“As soon as we see something that is going wrong on the grounds, we call 911,” said Zawaduk.
Nelson Police Department chief Wayne Holland arrived to his post last year and has taken tours of the festival for the past two events. The veteran officer said the team that runs the festival are doing a solid job of keeping order.
“They hire very competent personnel,” said Holland. “The visits I have taken out there, I have been pretty impressed with their thoroughness.”
Zawaduk said they are constantly trying to improve on security. This year they had issues with underage teens — you have to be 19 to attend — sneaking into the site. That will be one of the areas they discuss for improvement in 2013.
“We’re proud of what we do,” said Zawaduk, who travels to other festivals during the year with her team in search of best practices. “We are always trying to take it to the next level of cooperation.”