Cavendish concert rejection protects 'family demographic' visitors

The Cavendish Beach Music Festival attracts tens of thousands of country music fans every year. (Tourism P.E.I. - image credit)
The Cavendish Beach Music Festival attracts tens of thousands of country music fans every year. (Tourism P.E.I. - image credit)

The co-owner of a cottage rental property in Cavendish, P.E.I., is celebrating the local council's decision to reject a music festival proposed for mid-July.

Whitecap Entertainment wanted to launch the Sommo Festival, a two-day rock concert and culinary festival, on July 14-15 — the weekend following the 2023 Cavendish Beach Music Festival (CBMF).

The Resort Municipality of Stanley Bridge, Hope River, Bayview, Cavendish and North Rustico voted 3-2 against the application Monday night.

The proposal has met significant opposition largely because of its timing.

"Occupancy, during that time period, it's at 100 per cent anyways. So where are those concert goers going to stay? They're going to end up staying in Charlottetown, they're going to end up staying on the outskirts," said Adam Lowther, co-owner of Fairways Cottages.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

"We're just trying to bolster our off-season, and protect that family demographic that has been coming for 20 years and has been loyal for 20 years."

The resort municipality has an events policy that prioritizes family travellers from July 1 to Sept. 4, Lowther said, and he was pleased to see council uphold it.

"For our municipality, we have to make sure we put our constituents and stakeholders and residents first, and it didn't really show a huge benefit to us," he said.

Festival will go ahead

Whitecap Entertainment CEO Ben Murphy said the decision was disappointing, and he hoped for clarification from council.

The resort municipality placed the festival on the agenda for a special council meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening, but Whitecap is planning for Sommo to go ahead regardless of the final decision in Cavendish.

The festival's dates are fixed by the availability of the performers but the location isn't, and Murphy said Whitecap has already heard from other municipalities interested in hosting the event.

"We are really looking forward to getting a second festival out there," said Murphy.

"Our first preference is always Cavendish. We've been in Cavendish for 14 years right now. We have a lot invested in the municipality."

Anthony Davis/CBC
Anthony Davis/CBC

Whitecap hopes to develop Sommo into a festival as large as Cavendish Beach, which attracted 67,000 country music fans last year, over the next decade.