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Festival plans for Blueberry Jam reach full swing

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The next edition of Flin Flon’s Blueberry Jam Music Gathering is less than a month away and organizers are working fast to ensure the event happens as planned.

Blueberry Jam committee chair Edgar Wright said volunteers with the group are making every attempt to make the third edition of the festival as similar to the first two as possible, despite putting everything together in a much tighter timeframe.

“It will be similar - as similar as we can make it with the resources we have,” Wright said.

“In previous years, we were starting to make solid plans in January and Feburary. Now, we’re shortening six months into six weeks.”

Organizers are now reaching out to musicians, vendors, volunteers, sponsors and the like to see who will be good to go Sept. 3-5.

“We’re phoning everybody again to make sure they’re still committed - that’s taking a while. We’re scrambling to get quotes on things, looking around to get support from businesses in Flin Flon. We’re approaching businesses to see if they want to advertise,” Wright said.

“We will be looking for volunteers, for sure. We’ll see what we can do. We may not have as complete coverage of all the amenities as people have been used to in previous years, but there will be music.”

Wright and other organizers are also attempting to have business booths and a beer garden set up, much like the last two Blueberry Jam editions.

“There’s a number of things that we’re going to have to make decisions on at a meeting I’m trying to arrange next week,” said Wright.

This year’s Blueberry Jam is based on a bet that planners and promoters hope will pay off - that Manitoba will lift all COVID-19-related health restrictions, particularly on gatherings, before Sept. 3. The current Manitoba plan is to lift all restrictions by Labour Day - Sept. 6 this year, or the day after the planned final day of this year’s Blueberry Jam.

So far, the plan is working. Manitoba hit a previous set of vaccination targets well ahead of August long weekend and appears poised to do the same for September. If vaccination rates tail off, however, there could be trouble. Assigned seating, capacity limits and limited attendance and shows would be in the cards if rules are not lifted in time.

“There’s been comments from different folks that people may be ready for something like this. We’ve got our fingers crossed,” Wright said.

“We’re making a bet that the province will advance the September long weekend milestone. If they don't advance it, then we'll be in the position of having to limit the number of people to the amount of space we have. That would require something like reserved seating.”

One big change from previous Blueberry Jam events is already confirmed - the traditional second venue for the event, the Rotary Wheel, is out of the picture after another group snapped up the booking for Labour Day weekend first.

“There’s a wedding there,” said Wright.

“We want people to respect the wedding guests, so there’ll be wedding guest traffic into the Rotary Wheel and the campground. People can reserve spots at the campground, I’ve been told, but it’s first come, first served.”

With the Rotary Wheel booked, Wright said organizers are looking at a possible second site elsewhere in the campground - namely, in the park in the front of the Flin Flon Station Museum, though plans are still early.