Keeping the campground party going at BVJ
The Morin family gathers around a propane fire in the Big Valley Jamboree campground. They have been coming to the music festival in Camrose for 25 years. Leah Simonot/Camrose Canadian
Big Valley Jamboree 2018 was the end of an era for some, and an initiation for others.
Leonard and Jackie Morin of Fort Saskatchewan have been camping out at BVJ since day one. Having received free tickets in 1993, they were unsure what to expect but were pleasantly surprised.
They had a crew of eight that first year, and headliner Tanya Tucker claimed a lasting spot on their list of BVJ highlights.
This year, their party of 24 spans three generations and fills 12 campsites. The youngest camper, Alexander Weinrich, is only seven weeks old. The oldest is 64.
“The kids started to show up and, we couldn’t get rid of them, and the grandkids started to show up and we can’t get rid of them either,” said Leonard Morin.
A propane fireplace is a fixture in his site, where 12 of his crew gather under an R.V. awning to keep warm and dry on a drizzly Saturday afternoon. A round of bean bag toss is underway a few feet away and a grandchildren’s tent is set up across the lane.
Danielle Morin attended Big Valley Jamboree with her parents for the first time around the age of 10. She has experienced a range of wild weather, including strong winds, snow and funnel clouds, as well as the spectrum of the BVJ camper life.
The Morin kids hung around their parents’ site until they were old enough to go on their own. They spent a few years in general camping, enjoying their weekends of wrestling mud matches, slip n’ slides, sling shots and water balloons before returning to the comfort of their parents’ neck of the wood.
The group of 12 agree it is the friends, family and emcee Danny Hooper who make the weekend.
For first time BVJers Anthony Naulte, Aaron MacIntyre and Thomas Dewhurst, the weekend revolves around food and fun.
“I thought there would be a lot of good country music, a lot of drinking and a lot of fun people and I was not disappointed,” said Naulte, 20.
His crew’s packing act, however, he calls “a high school nightmare.”
“Some stuff over-packed and some stuff didn't happen so now we're missing out on stuff, but we have a lot of access to other stuff. Like we have a lot of stuff to drink, but we don't have enough food, we don't have enough camping supplies.”
Naulte’s take-away for future festivals is to be prepared for all weather. He and Dewhurst got caught in the rain with only one pair of full-length pants each. MacIntyre, on the other hand, did not pack a single pair.
Naulte also suggests snagging a quiet area of the campsite.
“Go party everywhere else and then come back to your place and sleep soundly and have energy for the next day.”
Meanwhile, the Morin’s are considering a new campground altogether. After years of returning to the festival, for which they purchase tickets in September, their seats were displaced to their disadvantage by the construction of the stage thrust. Moreover, they said, the cost of attending the festival goes up each year for they do not see as improved service.
“They want more money for less,” said Danielle Morin.