This was the first major event I was privileged enough to get a media pass for. What does the media pass get me? Well, first off free entrance to the festival (worth $200) and of course I was allowed to bring in my DSLR camera and access to the photo pit in front of the stage. Although I wanted to cover Country Music Television’s (CMT) first music festival in Canada, I am also a big fan of CMT, the performers and of course outdoor live music.
I wanted to experience the event as a regular patron, although I could have gained access to the festival through the media area, I lined up with everyone else. The gates were to open Friday at 4:00 pm and it was more like 4:45 pm when security began letting people through the security check area. We stood under the scorching sun but no one really minded that it was delayed. We were all too excited to get in. The bag searches were thorough but quick. Security was very professional and quite pleasant making the entire thing a positive experience for most. There were a few that failed to read the documents sent to them with the wristband outlining what could or could not be brought into the grounds.
Inside the grounds there were many food vendors, some merchandise and of course booze for sale. As a non-drinker I didn’t understand why people purchased two beers at a time, after witnessing the line ups and how long the waited for those beers, I now fully understand. In fact I waited 45 minutes for a spirally potato. I really wanted a BBQ meat sandwich but the potato line up was the shortest. The vendors were located along a road called “Market Lane” I thought that was a great idea, giving all vendors a fair crack at festival goers.
My “Spiral Spuds”, so so tasty and well worth the wait.
The music, what can I say? The lineup of both Canadian and American country music was unbelievable. The first time I read the lineup I jumped off my seat like a little boy and CMT continued adding to the bill. In fact I will have to say, I was torn between who I could see as many of my favourites were on at the same time. As media, I was running between stages to get photos. Many of you may not know but photographers are only allowed to shoot the artist during the first two or three songs. Then we are escorted out of the pit and asked not to shoot any after that. Shhh I snuck a few shots from the crowd. I felt that the Canadian performers on the Maple Leaf stage didn’t get the exposure they deserve because many people hung out at the main stage.
If I could suggest, the stages should be side by side and although the sets would be shorter, those on the Maple Leaf stage would rock the main crowd. They could perform while the main stage was being changed over. I missed a few of the performers because I had to choose between them or they started their set while I was in security. Sorry Eric Ethridge, Lindi Ortega, Kanas Stone, and Cold Creek County, too many bands so little time.
All in all this was a great festival and I can’t wait for more from CMT. Those who I spoke with felt the same way and would gladly part with their hard earned cash and come again. The location was great as well. Lots of festival photos, click here
The farm where the cars were parked was well organized and not too far away. CMT spared no expense on the shuttle busses, there were so many busses making the wait to get on a bus very reasonable.
One area where I was a wee disappointed was in the Festival Fashion. I was hoping to fill an album of festival fashion but I was only able to get a few shots off. There was simple not enough time between acts. I didn’t want to interrupt the head bobbing, foot tapping and hip swaying that was going on. Thank you to those who indulged me and to those who I got some candids of your fashion sense and festival fun.
“Hey can I get your photo, you look like a real cowboy?” “Sure” he replies. I gave him my card and he then gave me his. He’s Nicky Lee a local country singer. Like I said a real cowboy!
Oh yeah, there were many fun things to do
Even though Mother Nature crapped on us and Friday night’s Kip Moore and Eric Church sets were cancelled, I believe the festival was a huge success. CMT will be refunding 50% of the cost of tickets for the weekend and those who bought “Friday only” tickets were welcomed back on Saturday. I was deeply saddened that I missed two of my favourite artists, but maybe CMT will bring them back next year. I want to thank CMT and their staff for the pass and for treating me so well.