A visual rendering of Summerset Benefit concert, as it is planned for 2020. (Red Door Events photo)

Summerset music festival scheduled as drive-in benefit concert

A socially distant concert series August 28 to 30 will see proceeds go to struggling B.C. musicians

Summerset Music and Arts Festival will go ahead August 28 to 30 amid the pandemic – converting from a revenue generating venture for its founders to a non-profit mission for affected B.C. musicians.

First held in Fort Langley on the orchard grounds in front of the National Historic Site, its festival in 2019 attracted thousands with a musical lineup that included Paul Brandt, April Wine, and Kim Mitchell.

Summerset director Annette McArthur, of Red Door Events, said that as COVID-19 ravages “life as we once knew it” in B.C. there’s a growing fear that arts and culture will be among the hardest hit.

This – due to a ban provincial health ban placed on gatherings as of March 12 to curb COVID spread.

“Musicians have already sacrificed so much for their craft,” McArthur explained.

“And not every one qualifies for Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit. A lot of British Columbians in the live music and events industry depend on these summer concerts to live off of for the rest of the year.”

READ MORE: Fort Langley gets set for Summerset

Tailgate concert experience

For its second festival, the seven-person team at Red Door Events is offering concertgoers three distinct ways to enjoy this year’s Summerset festival – by tailgating, through a virtual livestream, or at a two-metre distance from other groups.

“It’s like a drive-in movie,” the director elaborated, “Some people stay at home to watch the movie, some go to theatre, and some go in their pick up trucks and get the beat seat in the house.”

“After all, pick ups have a built-in dance floor on the back,” McArthur said.

The concert – spaced out on 20-acres in the Langley Township at a so far undisclosed location – will allow allow festival-goers to roll down their windows and “take in the vibe,” she added.

Each vehicle or concert group will have a distanced, designated plot to create a drive-in concert.

RELATED: Summerset deemed ‘surreal’ with crowds of 10,000

Food and beer gardens return

There will still be an option to grab a beer this year.

Aspects including food, artists, vendors, and beer gardens are expected to be included once again – with social distancing measures in place.

After all, Red Door started as the events planning branch of Trading Post Brewery. It became it’s own stand-alone company nearly two years ago.

“It’s just not going to be a jam-packed bar,” McArthur explained.

Maintaining social distancing will be strictly enforced.

Langley RCMP will have a presence on site, ensuring guidelines surrounding social distancing are followed by concertgoers, and “to keep everyone safe,” she said.

Additional hand washing stations, restrooms, and a sanitation team to maintain rigorous cleaning standards are planned.

As well, Summerset will be a cashless event with all transactions completed via credit and debit card’s tap options.

“We’re not taking this [pandemic] lightly,” McArthur assured.

‘Still a lot of unknowns’: Final decisions await B.C. government

The director admitted that there are still a lot of unknowns regarding the festival.

As more is revealed from the B.C. government about its four-phased plan to gradually reopen the province, more concert details will be finalized by Red Door’s team, McArthur said.

This includes the ultimate capacity of those at each live concert. Last year’s festival drew crowds near 10,000 over a span of three days.

“It will be whatever we are allowed to do within the set-out parameters. We’re not going to push the envelope,” she said.

One thing that hasn’t changed: the musical lineup for the benefit concert.

“We’ve had contracts in place, and so far, not one musician has backed out,” McArthur added.

Ideally, “it would be a beautiful thing to see a couple of thousands of cars and a big old stage.”

Net proceeds from the event will build a fund for B.C. musicians suffering from lost work and income as a result of the pandemic.

Summerset Benefit Concert 2020 lineup is to be announced shortly, McArthur revealed.

More information and details can be found at summersetfestival.ca.

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