The annual Shambahla Music Festival is upon us this weekend.
The Star has been on record for several years as an unabashed supporter of the festival on both artistic and economic grounds.
True, it’s not for everyone, but it is for the 10,000 electronic music fans who descend for five days each year on the Salmo River Ranch.
Detractors complain, with some justification, about the problems created by the sudden influx of people to the region, including the police resources required.
They also point to the use of drugs at the music festival, although this can hardly be blamed on organizers who take extraordinary steps to prevent illicit substances from entering the grounds, and then extensive harm-reduction measures to ensure the safety of their guests.
On balance, we believe the festival is a net positive. It gives local business a tremendous boost, and has proven itself a community asset.
Just ask Selkirk College, the Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation, or the Kootenay Lake Outdoor Skatepark Society — a few beneficiaries of the festival’s largesse.
After 17 years, it’s time to put this perennial argument to bed. The naysayers will likely never be satisfied or go away, but organizers can and should take considerable pride in staging an event that has gained worldwide recognition.
Whatever challenges it brings, Shambhala is ultimately good for the Kootenay.
So welcome, Shambhala-goers. We hope you enjoy the festival and your stay in our area.