Print Edition: July 16, 2014
The Berry Beat Festival takes place every July in downtown Abbotsford and is always a good place to check out different vendors and buy local produce.
This year, many different vendors sold everything from handmade jewellery to artisan food. On top of the shopping and food, the Berry Festival always boasts an engaging live music scene. This year featured three stages with live performances throughout the weekend. The main festival stage was accompanied by shows hosted by Jam in Jubilee and CIVL Radio. Each stage found a different style of performer. While the main stage was geared for the widest audience possible, the Jam in Jubilee stage featured local and younger bands. Shows by CIVL featured singer-songwriters, many of which had performed earlier in the year at the radio station’s singer-songwriter competition.
Although CIVL Radio and Jam in Jubilee have collaborated with each other, this was the first year that both organizations have partnered with Berry Beat. CIVL station manager Aaron Levy explained how this partnership began:
“We’ve been an evening sponsor at Jam in Jubilee for the last three years. Tina [Stewart], from the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association, wanted to have some more live entertainment and some more exciting things at the Berry Festival. She thought — since we were so involved with Jam in Jubilee — maybe we’d want to put together a singer-songwriter stage and be another sponsor of Berry Beat and I thought that we should totally do that.”
The variety in music between the three stages attracted a different demographic of people than usual at Berry Beat. Stephen O’Shea, the music director of Jam in Jubilee explained that a focus on youth was of particular interest this year. “Our stage, the Jam in Jubilee stage, is hyper-focused to youth and creativity so bands playing original music and full bands obviously, and is directed to a younger demographic: high school and university students.”
Kristin van Vloten, one of the organizers and communication representatives with Jam in Jubilee, thought the Jam in Jubilee and Berry festival combination presents an opportunity for younger people in Abbotsford to engage in a community event. “I really hope that folks take the time to come out and see what it feels like to just be able to hang out with not only your friends, but a bunch of people your age you may have never met before in Abbotsford,” van Vloten said. “[It’s] kind of an unusual occurrence.”
The musicians involved with Jam in Jubilee and the Berry Festival seemed enthusiastic about the combination as well. Jake Holmes, drummer for bands Little Wild and Aerophonics — both of which performed at the festival — added, “It’s a very cool way of getting everyone together.”
Kyler Pierce, singer and guitarist of Harma White and Aerophinics and veteran performer of both Berry Festival and Jam in Jubilee, said, “I think it’s good that they’re doing the two combined. Now they’re bringing in local artists, and the local artists are bringing in their friends and family … it’s only adding support.”
Pierce went on to explain the more community-based difference between past Berry Festivals and Jams in Jubilee. “It’s basically built by the people that cherish downtown and cherish Abbotsford, whereas the Berry Festival is much more of a corporate kind of feel,” Pierce explained. “It’s a larger event. Jam in Jubilee is put on by the people that want to see live music stick around in Abbotsford.”
This year’s Berry Festival was a nice change to previous years. The addition of stages added an interesting new dynamic to the festival; despite a bout of miserable weather and some difficulty hearing the music due to more than one band playing at once, the Berry Beat festival was able to delight all ages.