by Kristy Aleksich
Tamara Stanners, Constellation Festival
Photo by Malcolm Yates
For a community that’s all about the outdoors, with a strong centre of creative types, a music festival seems like a natural fit. We had one – for a time, but it’s been a while since we’ve had the chance to walk around our own backyard and boogie down, enjoying amazing mountain views as a backdrop to incredible performances, people watching and just generally having an awesome time. Cue the team at Aquila Events, who decided it was time to take matters into their own hands and launch the ‘Constellation Festival’, a blend of music, art, food and community.
With all four individuals on the team being from Squamish, each with their own extensive experience in industries such as food and beverage, broadcasting, event production and music production, the cards are stacked high but they have a solid foundation to pull off what is lining up to be the event of the summer. We had a chance to sit down with Tamara Stanners, one of the four in this groups of pros ready to make magic happen, and ask her a few questions.
Taste of Squamish: How did the idea for Constellation Festival come about?
Tamara Stanners: When Squamish Valley Music Festival came to town it was fantastic. When it left, we really felt its absence. Our former Mayor, Patricia Heintzman, approached me three years ago and 'strongly' suggested ;) that I start a new music festival in Squamish. I had recently left my Program Director job at 102.7 the PEAK in Vancouver where I had been really involved in the music industry, and I told her that I needed to take at least a year off. One year later, my now partner in the festival, Kurt Larson, approached me with the same idea and we decided to go for it. We were then joined by Kirsten Andrews and Katherine Matthews.
TOS: What do you think makes Squamish an ideal location for a festival?
TS: At the core of all of this is that we all love Squamish. We are super proud of our hometown and love showing it off! The Hendrickson Field location is gorgeous. It truly feels like the heart of the Sea to Sky, surrounded by Mount Garibaldi and the Stawamus Chief. Everywhere you look it's breathtaking.
TOS: What kind of crowd are you expecting?
TS: Music loving, fun loving, great people. We have purposefully brought in all kinds of different genres of music to bring in all kinds of people. We want to be super inclusive. We want everyone to feel welcome at the festival. In the early years of SVMF I would talk to the festival goers who came up from Vancouver afterwards, and they all commented on how it felt like a big beautiful community, where people really cared about each other and their well-being. We want to attract a crowd like that and be able to share in an experience like that.
TOS: You're line up was released in March, what are some of the highlights?
TS: We are super excited about all of it! It's so fun to be able to bring artists that we've been watching for years to a new audience and have some such incredible headliners.
WE feel so lucky to have Serena Ryder and Dear Rouge as our first ever headliners on Friday night. Such powerful female voices. Saturday we will dance with Tribe Called Red and our headliner Jessie Reyez. Sunday, Bahamas, and Half Moon Run closing the festival will be unreal! Artists like Peach Pit, Art D'ecco, Jocelyn Alice, Parker Bossley, The Jerry Cans, Fast Romantics, daysormay, Scenic Route to Alaska and Begonia are literally blowing up. Fred Penner is an icon!! The Boom Booms are a local fave and we are stoked to have Wintersleep and Shad join the lineup. Super fun for everyone and we all get to experience them together at one of the most beautiful places on earth!
Serena Ryder headlines
TOS: Constellation isn't just about music, tell us more about what to expect
TS: We are super excited about the visual and performance art as well. We're bringing in local artists, indigenous artists, performance and circus acts. One of the really cool components is a massive interactive paint by number art piece by a group called Paintillio. Squamish is loaded with creators, and we want them to have a place to shine at Constellation.
TOS: What kind of food and drinks will be offered?
TS: We are putting together a wide range of excellent food truck options.
For drinks, we are so lucky to have Canada's First Craft Brewery, Big Rock Brewery and Rock Creek Cider as a sponsor. They are excellent! Squamish's growing reputation as a beverage making mecca will also be on display with local brews, ciders and spirits being served.
TOS: Any advice for how to best tackle the three day event?
TS: We are building a super comfortable festival experience. Two stages, no overlap. Many, many washrooms, places for shade, places to sit, great food and drinks. We will have a bike valet for easy riding into the festival. So, as far as tackling it goes, I think it's going to be pretty easy.
TOS: What else should people know before they go?
TS: We will have shuttles from Vancouver as well as local shuttles to make getting to the festival easier. All of that is still coming together and will be announced in the coming months, along with our camping partnership. Go to constellationfest.ca for all of the updates.
Follow Kristy Aleksich on Instagram @kfm_aleksich.