Rock festival looking for new venue

Farmstock organizers couldn't pay $5,000 damage deposit

Music festival organizers that were hoping to rock out at the Agassiz Speedway this summer are now looking for another place to party.

Farmstock is a one-night party that has taken place in the Fraser Valley before, previously at the Vedder Campground in Chilliwack. Organizers had approached the Kent Raceways Society about renting the Agassiz facility for their event this August.

That would required the support by Kent council, as well as a damage deposit to cover police services. But when the issue came to council’s attention two weeks ago, they immediately saw red flags and asked staff to look further into the planned event.

Council also asked staff to increase the suggested $3,000 damage deposit to $5,000.

At this Monday’s council meeting, staff reported that the organizers, Valley Side Productions, could not afford the deposit and canceled their request. Valley Side was also advertising the event and selling tickets through Eventbrite before final approval was given by council.

The event was billed as being “one night to not give a f***” and was listed as a different date than requested.

The cancellation was a bit of relief for some members of council and staff.

“It didn’t really support what we are trying to do with Kent Raceways Society,” said Kerry Hilts, director of Community Services.

“It was going to be catering to a younger crowd, with wording that meant it could get out hand,” Hilts said.

But organizer Simon Menard, when contacted by the Observer, said the online advertisement was unintentional.

“We had a guy doing our website for us,” Menard said, and a link to Eventbrite was built in to eventually be able to buy tickets.

“He made a fake Farmstock page, and he just put whatever in, and then he didn’t un-publish it,” Menard said.

Either way, Menard said they couldn’t afford the damage deposit.

“We are an independent music festival and so we don’t have that kind of money,” Menard said.

He agreed that last year they ran into some issues with some attendees behavior, and this year they had planned to have security on site.

“This is the first year where we are making it as legit as possible,” Menard said, with security, sponsors and the approval of a municipality. “It proved to be impossible.”

Menard said he understands the concerns, and is hoping to work with the District of Kent on more family friendly entertainment options. Farmstock goes late into the night, hours past the 11 p.m. noise bylaw limit.

The event would have put $1,500 in the hands of the Kent Raceway Society, but at a potential cost to taxpayers through policing costs.

“Policing could have easily been more than $5,000,” said Mayor John Van Laerhoven.

Hilts said the failure to come to an agreement with the event organizers for Farmstock this year doesn’t mean they can’t work together in the future.

Valley Side is currently looking for other places to hold their event. At press time, the event was being advertised for early August on Cheam First Nations land.

Farmstock is a night of entertainment and camping, with local rock bands performing through the day and into the early hours of the morning. Nine bands have signed on for this year’s event, Menard said.

news@ahobserver.com