The Jam is coming back this summer - and we have a better idea of what it’s going to look like.
This year’s edition of the Blueberry Jam Music Gathering, the third full edition and the first of its kind since COVID-19 hit the world in 2020, will take place from August 5-7 this summer, centred around the main festival area at Flinty’s Campground.
Blueberry Jam board chair Colleenn Arnold said that plans to expand the festival, in the works as early as summer 2019, took a backseat during the pandemic. The Jam was held as a one-day-only, one-stage-only event in 2021 for a limited number of performers and spectators - there was no event at all in 2020, though the festival stage was used for a series of socially-distanced outdoor fundraiser shows.
The emphasis with this year’s event, Arnold said, is to get back to what worked with the Jam before and build on that for next year.
“Back in 2019, they had expanded and we were looking at expanding, making more pre-COVID-19. Now, we’re kind of going back to like it was our first year again - not trying to do much more than we have in the past, doing the three-day thing, seeing how that goes and looking to expand that in the future,” she said.
Some new plans are in the works, including building a second, smaller stage - possibly a temporary one - specifically for the festival. The new stage will be mounted facing Highway 10A, in front of the Flin Flon Station Museum and campground, facing away from the main stage located further into the campground.
“We are having two stages - one in front of the museum and the main stage. We have about 30 acts - about a hundred different individual artists are coming,” said Arnold.
The festival’s traditional second stage, the Rotary Wheel, may or may not be in the cards for this year’s event - organizers have not yet been able to come to an agreement on whether to use the Rotary Wheel or how it should be used.
“Quite a few different ideas have come up. We haven’t quite come to an agreement on what we’re going to do with it - it might host something, it might not,” Arnold said.
Johnny’s Social Club also will likely not be in use as an official stage as part of the festival like it was in 2019, though events may still take place at the centre separate from the festival during the weekend.
“It's still possible that Johnny's might put something on but right now, we haven't had anything scheduled there,” Arnold said.
Another change from 2019 will be the hours for the festival itself. Instead of a Thursday night kickoff, starting up again in the afternoon Friday, continuing all day Saturday and ending late Sunday afternoon, the Jam this year will start on Friday, go all day Saturday and end Sunday night around 9 p.m., according to current plans.
“We will have our beer gardens, we will have livestreaming. We’ll have a lighted crosswalk for people to be able to cross the road from the Walmart parking lot at night. We’ll have different vendors there - the Rotary Club will be there, others will be coming.”
Organizers are also in need of the same resource that the Jam has run on the entire time it has been in operation - volunteers to work various jobs associated with the festival.
“Volunteers - we’re in dire need of volunteers now that we’ve got everything set up,” Arnold said.
“We need people to do parking at the Walmart and Canadian Tire parking lot, we need people to work at the front gates, we need people to do 50/50, people to do donation buckets - we had them at the gates last year, but a lot of people missed them as they were coming in, then somebody started walking around with it and they got a bunch of donations.”
The Flin Flon Rotary Club is also seeking out volunteers for the event, looking for assistance running everything from food stations to beer gardens to ticket sellers and bar staff.
"We anticipate we will require at least 120 people to pull off the food vendor and campground stage beer garden on that weekend," said the club's Dean Grove.
"We are looking for extra hands in many areas including food concession workers, ticket sellers and bar workers to work a three-hour shift on that weekend. No experience necessary - we will provide the training."
Possible volunteers are asked to contact the Flin Flon Arts Council at (204) 687-5974 or Grove at (204) 923-0315 or email@example.com to get involved.