Boonstock, an annual music festival that is well known to residents of Sturgeon County, Alberta, has been banned after 9 years. Organized by Colin Kobza on his own land, the festival has been running for 9 seasons and growing stronger every year. Kobza not only invites major bands like the Offspring, Gob, Sublime, Slash and Billy Talent to perform, he makes sure that smaller, local bands get a chance to dazzle the crowds as well. Since Boonstock is a Canada-Day weekend event, ticket-holders can get a 2-day pass and set up camp on Kobza’s land along with thousands of other festival-goers. Unfortunately, the neighbors aren’t so keen on the event.
Drugs, alcohol, noise and garbage complaints have been filed by many nearby residents over the course of the festival’s history, but this year Kobza’s neighbor Ron Ebbers decided it was time for Boonstock to find a new venue. When festival-goers reportedly broke one of Ebbers’ gates with a truck and threw trash on his land, he was understandably peeved. After the news that 2 more Boonstock attendees broke into a nearby home, however, Ebbers started a petition to have the festival banned from its home of 9 years.
The petition collected 107 signatures and was presented to Sturgeon County councillors at a recent meeting, during which time Ebbers told the council that Boonstock was responsible for too much trash, vandalism and trespassing every year. The result? Boonstock was officially banned from operating in its current position, and fans as well as Colin Kobza are devastated. In retaliation for the damning anti-Boonstock petition that was presented to Sturgeon County Council, the festival organizer has started his own petition through Change.org. So far, his numbers are already 5 times higher than Ebbers’.
The official petition notice reads:
“The Boonstock Music Festival, which celebrated its ninth year in June, attracted about 14,000 fans a day. Sturgeon County, the region where Boonstock is held has passed a bylaw banning all events over 2,000 people, and another motion has been passed to specifically ban Boonstock from its current location.”
Kobza feels that too much fuss is being made over a relatively tiny percentage of his festival’s attendees, and that the council has overlooked the fact that Boonstock brings in a huge economic boost to the county each year. An anonymous volunteer organizer for Boonstock agrees:
“Police are always permitted to be on site and the patrons have 24hr access to emergency crews. It is owned and operated on private land. This takes place 20 minutes north of Edmonton and is just north of Gibbons, Alberta, which brings in a boost of revenue for the local, small community.”
Another reason that the Council voted to ban Boonstock from Kobza’s land is because of annual traffic problems brought on by the influx of tens of thousands of music fans. Although organizers recognize the severe traffic problem, they feel that the economic boost to the area outweighs two days of bad traffic. Colin Kobza has said that the decision to ban Boonstock was purely political, given that it is an election year. He hopes to gather at least 1000 signatures on his petition site and visit the Council again very soon.
by Mandy Gardner