Since 2016, Northern Development has supported the Robson Valley Music Society with $17,500 through five Fabulous Festivals and Events grants to bolster the annual Robson Valley Music Festival (RVMF) in Dunster.
“The rural and isolated communities benefit hugely from this culturally rich event,” said Shara Gustafson, artistic director/executive producer, Robson Valley Music Society. “This family oriented event strengthens social and cultural development by bringing all ages and walks of life together for the opportunity to celebrate music, art and community. The festival itself presents high-calibre artists from around the world mixed in with our local and regional artists, exposing them to a wider audience and the opportunity to connect and network with other artists. Local artisans get a chance to exhibit and sell their wares by exposure to attendees from all over B.C. and beyond.”
Festival organizers cap attendance at 1,000 people, creating a community experience with rich culture over the three days. With the festival grounds sprawling over 2.5 kilometres of Fraser River frontage in the Rocky and Cariboo Mountains, there are five stages, interactive workshops, children’s area, vendor alley, food trucks, camping areas and two communal fire pits.
“It was amazing!” said Lisa Darrah about her experience attending RVMF in 2022. “Loved the food, the music and all the activities for my five-year-old. The vibe was humble, well-organized, relaxed and super exciting!”
According to event organizers, the festival weekend is the busiest and most profitable weekend of the year for many local hotels, gas stations, B&Bs, pet hostels, grocery, liquor and hardware stores around the Robson Valley.
Beyond the economic benefits for businesses rooted in the area, the festival grows and strengthens connections between attendees, performers and vendors. Spending three days in a serene setting surrounded by nature and art promotes a strong connection to place and others, rejuvenating spirits and leaving a lasting positive impression of the experience.
“I want to thank you for providing a place to commune with friends who feel like family,” wrote Doug D. in a letter to RVMF organizers after the 2022 festival. “It felt like I had come home to a love that had never noticed I was gone. I want to thank you for a home I never knew I could come home to. There aren’t words to thank you for what there aren’t words to describe. There were tears, and they were tears of joy. This festival meant so much to me.”
The 2023 RVMF will be held August 11-13 in Dunster.