Entertainment Local

Big changes coming to BVJ concert bowl

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

The Big Valley Jamboree concert bowl will get a major overhaul for 2018, including a stage thrust and fan pits which will allow artists to better interact with music fans and a better designed seating arrangement. www.bigvalleyjamboree.com/ Supplied

The Big Valley Jamboree concert bowl will get a major overhaul for 2018, including a stage thrust and fan pits which will allow artists to better interact with music fans and a better designed seating arrangement. www.bigvalleyjamboree.com/ Supplied

As Big Valley Jamboree turns 25 this year, organizers are doing their best to ensure it ages gracefully. 

There will be some noticeable upgrades this year, but there are even bigger ones in store for 2018 when the concert bowl will undergo a major renovation. 

According to president of Trixstar Productions Mike Anderson, they have poured three years of research into the modernization of the event site to improve the fan experience, and will put them on the same level as other major festivals.

Now it is just a matter of making sure country music fans are aware of how the changes will effect them.

“I think the initial shock might have ruffled a couple of feathers, but once they see it and experience the concert bowl, everybody is really going to like the new changes,” said  Chris Melnychuk, Director of Festival Operations and marketing at Trixstar Productions. “Changes like that are not easy to make, so we put a lot of thought in the  process and consulted a lot of other festivals and tried to give those people as much notice as possible with the changes and not spring it at the festival.” 

Since 1993, there has been a very traditional stage set up, with the main stage at one end of the concert bowl and then a mass of chairs filed out in front of it. There have been tweaks here and there and different amenities lining the bowl. 

The new design will include a 100-foot, four-foot wide thrust that will shoot from the stage down the middle of the bowl, there will also be two fan pits installed at either side of the thrust. The whole idea is to allow for the artist to better interact with concert goers. 

“With the pits in the front we’re able to engage that younger demo that couldn’t get to the front of the stage before and now they have the opportunity to purchase those tickets and also gives the artists an opportunity to engage with the youth and feed off their energy,” said Anderson. 

There has also been much attention paid to the lay out of the chairs and sections in the new concert bowl. The chairs will still be about 20 from the stage, meaning the group of fans standing in the pits should not impede sight lines for those in the front row. They have also designed sections with more aisles and better uniformed spacing. 

“For the last 23 years we would add more chairs and basically the design didn’t fit the bowl properly, the aisles wouldn’t line up and the chairs were just sort of squished in and stuff, we wanted to make a change to add a bit more of a modern feel,” said Melnychuk. 

This year there will be a few noticeable changes as well. They have upgraded the Jim Beam Backroom Bar, the Coors Banquet Saloon and increased BVJ branding throughout the bowl in an effort to solidify the feel of the festival. 

The biggest changes will come in the AV department. The smaller video screen on either side of the stage have been swapped out for two 600-square foot screens, and the speaker system received a major upgrade as well. 

Previously in inclement weather, the speakers had to be lowered for safety precautions and to help deal with wind deflection. This impacted the ability of those in the back of the bowl to hear the acts and diminished the experience greatly. 

“We heard it, we had phone calls, emails, Facebook ... and listening to those complaints brought all of the changes you’re going to see this year,” said Anderson. 

It is all part of an attempt to keep the jamboree fresh into the next 25 years, it’s a complicated process as they try to attract new fans while not alienating those who have made BVJ the success that it is. 

“We understand there are generational shifts and people’s needs change so we try to adapt and try to adapt while trying to keep that tradition alive,” said Anderson.

“People’s buying habits are different and their consumption habits are different. We’re just making sure we have a great guest experience, not just for Millennials and Gen Zen now, but also maintaining it for older demographics that have been supporting us for the last number of years.” 

jaldrich@postmedia.com 



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