Resort mayor 'impressed' with Cavendish Beach Music Festival despite some complaints about noise, drug use

·3 min read
Ticket sales for the 2022 festival broke records this year but officials say despite the big crowds, complaints were down.  (Brittany Spencer/CBC - image credit)
Ticket sales for the 2022 festival broke records this year but officials say despite the big crowds, complaints were down. (Brittany Spencer/CBC - image credit)

Despite having the largest crowd in the history of the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, officials say complaints were down and the event went off without a hitch.

P.E.I.'s Resort Municipality held a public meeting Tuesday night to hear directly from residents as well as festival organizers, police and fire officials and liquor commission staff.

About 25 people attended the meeting. Most described the concert as a success — though not everybody.

John Phillips, who lives in the area, raised concern about noise and drug use on the concert site, especially the use of marijuana.

"I think my biggest issue is your drug issue, we were down and it was flippin' disgusting," Phillips said to organizers during the meeting.

'I don't have your answers'

"I did mention it to a couple of your security and they said there's too many people, there's not enough of us to enforce it. So I don't know how you are going to enforce it, I don't have your answers."

Wayne Thibodeau/CBC
Wayne Thibodeau/CBC

The three-day music festival, which was held July 7-9, attracted more than 67,000 people. That's the largest crowd ever in the concert's 12-year history, according to festival CEO Ben Murphy.

Murphy said about 10 per cent who bought tickets didn't show up, something he blames mainly on COVID-19.

He said he'd look at improving the process of checking bags as concertgoers enter the site in response to Phillips' concerns about marijuana use.

"I can tell you, there were lots thrown out," Murphy said.

Murphy said they will continue to work with residents and the community going forward.

'Maybe three or four calls'

"We had a really great weekend and it was really nice just to be back," he said.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

To curb underage drinking, Murphy said they may consider reinstating bracelets. He said they are also looking at improving the cleanup of the site after the concert.

Meanwhile, police officials said that despite having the biggest crowds in the concert's history, complaints were way down.

"Campgrounds this year were exceptional," said Queens District RCMP Staff Sgt. Shane Hubley.

"[We had] maybe three or four calls over the span of four days at campgrounds. That's astonishing. It was very good. We've had more calls to one campground alone in previous years on one night than we had this year in total."

Issues will require focus, mayor says

Resort Municipality Mayor Matthew Jelley said he was worried going into the festival given the pent-up demand and the fact it was one of the biggest festivals to be held after two years of cancellations caused by the pandemic.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

But he said he was "extraordinarily impressed" with how it unfolded.

"We saw some challenges with traffic, we heard of some challenges with overconsumption and perhaps with underage consumption as well and those are things our community has been concerned about since the start of the festival," Jelley said.

"I don't think there was anything particularly unexpected tonight, just that those are issues that are going to continue to require a focus on the organizers and the community to hold them accountable."

Residents who were not able to attend the meeting can submit comments in writing until Aug. 2.

Second concert planned for September 2023

Murphy did announce the Cavendish Beach Music Festival will be expanding, with plans for a second concert for the second week of September in 2023.

He said this concert would focus on an older crowd and may include classic rock acts.

"We're hopeful that we can use the site more than once a year," Murphy said.

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