By Meg Olson
After over 20 years as an iconic summer event, this year the Point Roberts Arts and Music Festival has quietly slipped away.
After celebrating the event’s 20th anniversary in 2015, longtime organizer Steve O’Neill announced he was through. “I was tired,” O’Neill said. “I wish it was still going but I couldn’t keep it going.”
Event founder Craig Jacks collaborated last year with the Point Roberts Marina to put on a smaller event and logistics mandated moving the date from the traditional B.C. Day long weekend in August to the Labor Day weekend a month later. The date change left many vendors and performers unable to participate.
This year none of the people who have had a hand in the festival over the years came forward to keep it going.
The festival has seen a slow decline in the practical and financial underpinnings that made it a success, said Pam Sheppard, former events organizer and member of the Point Roberts Arts Foundation. “The infrastructure was just gone,” she said.
The nonprofit foundation, which had traditionally sponsored the event, was dissolved in 2010 and the event fell to the individuals who had been involved in its production. “Every year people were putting in their own money, Craig was renting the equipment himself. We had to start basing what we could do on what money was coming in,” O’Neill said
In 2015 the festival lost their primary sponsor, Westshore Terminals.
“The last year I did it they were still sponsors but they let us know they would be moving in another direction,” O’Neill said. “I knew I just didn’t have the time or the money to keep it going.”
Some have seen the closure and removal of a substantial portion of the Lighthouse Marine Park boardwalk, the longtime festival location, as a contributing factor to the event’s demise, but O’Neill disagrees. “With the smaller venue and the stage moved towards the water it was really nice,” he said. “I do miss having it. Maybe we’ll see it start up again.”
This year the Compass Rose Bar and Grill will fill in the hole on the B.C. Day long weekend with a Seafood Festival on Saturday, August 5, featuring a talent show, a highlight of last year’s festival. “It will be more or less a one day extension of the restaurant,” said organizer
The restaurant’s outdoor seating area will be extended and a special menu featuring local seafood will be offered.
The talent show will begin at 3 p.m. followed by music from local and visiting musicians. Contestants can pre-register for the talent show at firstname.lastname@example.org.