Bringing Boonstock back?

The Boonstock Music and Arts Festival has come and gone, leaving in its wake the tragic loss of a life, abandoned camping gear, empty bottles and mixed feelings.

Despite the dust and concerns about security, most attendees claim to have had a good time, while the RCMP and city officials are still wading through incident and other reports before commenting.

"I thought it was pretty fun, and the music was good too with excellent sound quality, really just pretty awesome overall," said Justin Rao, 22, of Calgary.

The downside he added was the dust was bad, big time, and the security was not good, with people getting in for free. 

Still, the young man from Alberta said if it comes back next year to Penticton, he will definitely be there.

"I will come back, it just needs a little improvement," he said.

Pierre Kruger, an elder of one of the Penticton Indian Band locatee families, whose land the festival was on, said anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 people attended the first day, with the number growing to 8,000 to 9,000 attending the last two days.

He didn't get to see much of the music, because he was walking the outside perimeter doing security, but what he did see was incredible, he said.

As for the festival itself, his feeling was it went well.

"It went better than anticipated with all the hurdles we had to jump through to make it happen right up to the last minute," he said.

He was sorry, however, that a young woman from Leduc, Alberta, since identified as Lynn Tolocka, 24, died at the festival.

"I feel sad when young people die unnecessarily," he said. "We can't control them you know."

As far as the concerns about dust and a water shortage, he said they will do a better job of controlling the dust in years to come and that there was plenty of water to be had. Some festival goers had complained about there not being enough water around or that it was expensive.

He is hopeful Boonstock will be back next year, saying, "unless I hear otherwise, it will be back."

Boonstock organizer Travis Kruger said the feedback he has received from businesses and community members has been positive.

"I've had hundreds of texts from people celebrating the success and really thankful for bringing something back for their demographic," he said.

He too was hoping to bring the festival back next year.

"People are looking forward to the next one and what we can do for Penticton," he said.

The RCMP said as of Tuesday morning, they were still gathering statistics, and it would take some time before they released numbers.

According to Grace Kucey, communications officer with Interior Health Central, the number of transfers from the festival site to Penticton Regional Hospital over the weekend was 80, including the young woman who passed away.

The majority of the transfers to the hospital over the weekend were drug and alcohol related, as well as many dehydration concerns.

"From the hospital perspective we were able to manage patient care over the weekend, which was very busy, because we were prepared," she said.

Everyone was also taken care of in the hospital, so they did not need to use the mobile medical unit brought in for the long weekend. Kucey did not comment on the condition of other patients who were brought in.

Mayor Garry Litke said they have a number of agencies, the RCMP, BC Ambulance and the hospital ,currently preparing reports, and it was too early for him to comment fully on the festival.

He did say he had nothing but praise for the agencies, working under very difficult circumstances.

"I am extending praise to all three of those organizations who went above and beyond the normal call of duty," he said.

On Monday and Tuesday, the big job for organizers was cleaning up the mess left behind. The camping area was strewn with tents, chairs, sleeping bags, tarps, cars and other belongings. Bottles covered the ground where stages were set up.

Details of how they planned to handle the clean up were not immediately available, but there was an understanding community groups were coming in to do it for a donation.

Castanet will provide more details on the aftermath of the festival, as they become available.


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