It may still be months away from coming to fruition, but this year’s edition of the Blueberry Jam Music Gathering is now being planned.
Question marks still linger over some details, but the event will return this August.
“We're making progress. We're moving forward,” said Blueberry Jam board chair Colleen Arnold.
“We might just try and get it back to where it was before, then add on different things in the future and just worry about getting this back on track.”
There won’t be much new in terms of expansion for this year’s planned event - the plans are more about a return to pre-pandemic form, more like the free weekend-long show in 2019 and unlike the cancelled 2020 or abbreviated 2021 editions.
The basics will stay the same. The show will go on all weekend long, the events will be free and the nerve centre of the festival will still be at the Flinty Campground main stage. Between 20 and 30 artists or acts are already confirmed to be taking part in the event this year.
Other locations are likely to see some of the Jam, but exact details are still coming. The same can be said about vendors and business presence - while the Rotary Club will be back and helping run the beer garden and provide food, other ideas are not firmed up yet.
“We’re throwing out different ideas right now, but we’re not quite solidified yet, other than the date,” Arnold said.
In the years since it first began, Blueberry Jam has become one of Flin Flon’s biggest summer events, attracting locals, music fans and faraway people with Flin Flon ties alike. The 2019 event saw visitors in the thousands coming for each of the three festival days, watching performances at the main stage area, the Rotary Wheel and Johnny’s Social Club.
One improvement, for organizers at least, will be in how people enter the festival. To get a better idea of who comes in for the shows and from where, Arnold says there are plans to extend a ticketing and bracelet system, like the kind used last year, to ensure information on visitors is up-to-date and accurate. A firm hold on the number of visitors coming for the event gives the board better ability to apply for grants and arts funding.
“One thing we want to do this year is to keep track of how many out-of-towners we have and where they're from, so that we have a better idea. We knew people were here from as far away as the U.K. last time, then we had people coming back from different provinces, people who still have family here or friends here,” Arnold said.
“That's one interesting thing that we want to try, to somehow do a Flin Flon or Blueberry Jam registration online just so that your name, email address, where you're from, so that we have a better idea how many out of towners are coming through. We'll see how that goes.”
Registration was brought in specifically for the one-day Blueberry Jam event last fall, the first such event held since the pandemic started. That registration system was meant to be used both for grant and information purposes and for possible COVID-19 contact tracing.
With most provincial health orders on COVID-19 now out of effect, the organizing committee behind the Jam are also looking forward to a longer and busier event. Last year’s Jam had a vaccination requirement and many attendees wore masks for the outdoors event out of precaution - with such measures not mandatory but still encouraged if visitors wish, Arnold says that the goal is to pack the campground once again.
“Last year, it was so enjoyable for the people there, they were ready to try and get back to normal or semi-normal. I think even more people will come out and a good time was had by all - hopefully we can kind of bring it back as big as it has been,” Arnold said.
“Hopefully, it’ll be even better this year - bigger and better.”