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Big crowds turn out at outdoor theatre for ‘Rock the Park’ in Parksville

Musical festival bands played tunes spanning variety of decades

The new Parksville Outdoor Theatre was put to the test with the first annual Mid Island Co-op Rock the Park Music Festival.

The new three-day event, hosted over the weekend by they Parksville Beach Festival Society, drew crowds ranging in size from 1,500 to 4,000 and helped raise funds to offset theatre operating expenses, according to a news release from the society.

Lloyd Derry, entertainment director and festival organizer, said the goal was an affordable event with a variety of performers, who covered the hits from the 1950s to the present.

“The talent pool on Vancouver Island and throughout our province is diverse,” he said. “Knowing what concert-goers enjoy in our community is critical when inviting bands to our community.”

Derry has been organizing music in the park for many years and selected tribute artists with rave reviews and perennial Island favourites.

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Festival volunteers received positive feedback throughout the weekend about the quality of the theatre, the sound and the bands.

During the Saturday show, Jody Tennant, who performs as Paul McCartney in the Beatles tribute, The Fab Fourever, shared his appreciation for the new stage.

“I’d like to say what a beautiful, world-class facility you have created,” said Tennant.

“It’s one of the nicest stages we’ve ever performed on, and yes we’ve performed on quite a few in different places and countries.”

The band even invited Derry on stage, when they noticed him singing along.

“They waved me over, so I sang the last part of ‘Hey Jude’ with them, so it was kind of cool,” Derry said with a laugh.

The festival ended with Zach Stevenson’s tribute to Buddy Holly, which included an encore. Stevenson has taken his talent to Chicago, where he performs regularly and receives rave reviews.

“We were honoured to end our festival with ‘the local boy’,” said Derry. “We knew he would capture everyone’s hearts and leave them wanting more.”

The society will take stock of the festival’s results and determine plans for hosting future events.

“Raising funds will be a constant goal in order to maintain affordable ticketed events as well as free events,” Derry said. He added the society invites people interested in helping host events to get in touch.

McMillan Arts Centre and Parksville Beach Festival Society partnered for ticket sales.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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