The Laketown Rock Festival returns to Lake Cowichan after a four-year hiatus

This weekend’s classic rock festival features sets from John Fogerty, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Keb’ Mo’, Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason, among others.

SEA TOWN ROCK

Where: Laketown Ranch Music and Recreation Park, 8811-2 Youbou Rd., Lake Cowichan

When: 22-23 July

Tickets: $61-$432 from laketownranch.com

Campground culture will be a top priority for the 4,500 fans expected to attend the Laketown Rock Festival, which features sets from the likes of John Fogerty, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Keb ‘Mo’, Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason.

Rock-hungry fans are expected to arrive early for the weekend event in order to secure prime campsites for the weekend. The classic rock themed festival, held at Lake Town Ranch Music and Recreation Park in Lake Cowichan, has not been hosted since 2018 when Collective Soul and Colin James helmed the event.

According to festival manager Mike Hann, the population has been underserved for a long period of time. “We’re excited about the return of this format to the ranch,” said Hann. “It’s going to be an old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll show.”

Fogerty and Cochrane are well known to island audiences, but Keb’ Mo’, Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason don’t play the market as regularly as they did a few years ago. That adds an air of excitement to some bookings.

“This was built around John Fogerty – you can’t beat a legend on your website,” said Hann. “But we really wanted to represent some other Canadian acts and also have some regional acts.”

The latter are represented by six acts with roots in the region, including Garret T. Willie (Campbell River), Sarah Osbourne & The Magic Buttons (Gabriola Island), the Poubelles (Victoria), Liam Mackenzie and the Moondogs (Victoria). Lance Lapointe Band (Port Alberni) and Littlehead (Chemainus).

It’s an extremely busy time of year for Hann and his crew, who have immersed themselves in the day-to-day operations of the 260-acre site for the upcoming festival season. Thousands of campers left Laketown Ranch on July 3 after watching the Wu-Tang Clan, Arkells and Glorious Sons sets at the three-day Laketown Shakedown festival. And thousands of early arrivals will return to country music festival Sunfest just days after Laketown Rock ends.

Having the site go live for the first time this year for Laketown Shakedown just under three weeks ago made all the difference, Hann said. The rust from the pandemic lockdown is long gone.

“I’m very proud of everyone who made it where it is now,” said Hann. “The site has never looked better, it has never performed better. The efficiency is there. Many people [for Laketown Shakedown] I’ve never been there and it felt great.”

Two stages will be activated for Laketown Rock — the main stage, where the headliners perform, and the “after-party” stage nearby — but the footprint is much smaller than at the sister events on-site. That was intentional, according to Hann. It has been a stressful two years for many people and the audience for the assembled acts usually wants to move in a smaller radius on location.

“This crowd is all about pulling up a chair and enjoying the concert,” he said. “But there are other people that we are hearing from about this event, the people who are most excited, also from other communities. These fans all just want to have fun.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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