After a two-year hiatus, Kelowna's Fireside Festival returned to the city this past weekend, with dozens of bands playing over three nights.
Fireside Festival returned to Red Bird Brewing Friday and Saturday night, followed by a final night of festivities at BNA Brewing Sunday. Heather Leslie, one of the festival organizers, called the weekend a "big-time" success.
“You kind of hope for the best, and you think it's going to be good, but we're always blown out of the water as it's happening,” Leslie said. “The crowd is such a huge part of it and they were so incredible this year.
“For the most part, we heard [all the artists] want to come back, so that's really good feedback.”
Leslie estimates more than 2,000 people came to the festival over the three days, and they sold out of tickets both Saturday and Sunday. She said the crowd had great energy all weekend, and were “super respectful.”
“We didn't have any issues, it was the best we could have asked for,” she said.
Fireside is the brainchild of Aaron DeSilva, who first began hosting early iterations of the event with local musicians at his home off Lakeshore Drive back in 2014. Now, the three-day, ticketed festival – which attracts artists both locally and from afar – is run by DeSilva, Leslie and booking manager Kelly Shepherd, along with about a dozen volunteers.
Leslie says it was great to have Fireside back, as many people are craving live music and a sense of community after going through the pandemic.
“The last time we did this was the end of January 2020 ... we didn't know if it was ever going to happen again,” she said. “It was clearly something that people were craving ... it was what the city needed right now, not only because it's so bleak but just after the last couple of years.
“It's great to actually be able to support our artists again.”
After a whirlwind past week, the core team of organizers are already looking towards next year.
“There's been so many lessons learned over the years, there was not a single issue this year,” she said. “We just have such a solid team dealing with all the moving parts together ... it was a really beautiful group effort.”