What started as one evening of live marimba music in Rutledge Park has expanded into a summer-long musical celebration now in its sixth year in Saanich.
Every Tuesday night from 6-8 p.m. a different band plays in a public space during the Sunfest Music in the Park series, co-presented by the Saanich Legacy Foundation, the District of Saanich and participating community associations.
“When we first got together our intention was total joy and everything came together with that in mind,” said Margaret Bachmann, chair of the organizing committee for the Rutledge Park shows.
This week, the series returned to the park, which has undergone a transformation since the first concert. Last year, between 700 and 1,200 spectators attended each event in the park, on the corner of Cloverdale Avenue and Inverness Road.
“It was a complete dive and somewhat dangerous and now it’s this beautiful spot that people come and are drawn to,” said Karen Dearborn, past president of the Quadra/Cedar Hill Community Association and organizer with the Rutledge Park series since the get-go.
“There’s a whole mix of people who come together to enjoy the day,” Dearborn added, pointing to the mix of housing in the neighbourhood that includes seniors’ condominiums, co-op housing, apartments and basement suites in single family homes.
The series relies on the cooperation of Saanich Parks and Recreation, Community Services and businesses, as well as the initiative of community associations. Rutledge’s committee of 20 volunteers meets year-round.
Rutledge isn’t the only park seeing enthusiastic crowds.
The July 26 show at Beckwith Park, featuring rock cover group Voyager, was the first show of the series in the North Quadra area.
Lee Richmond, special events assistant for Saanich was one of the volunteers on site at Beckwith to ensure the event’s success.
“The splash park closed just in time for Music in the Park, creating that family buzz,” Richmond said.
Each venue has its own vibe, he added, from the families with young children attracted to the water park at Beckwith, to the slightly older crowd that kicked off the series July 5 with CanUs at Goward House.
Music in the Park has also been staged at Majestic and Brydon Parks. The admission-free event includes face-painting, crafts and displays unique to each park. Next up: Rutledge Park hosts Black Angus and Rukus (Aug. 9 and 16, respectively). The series closes on Aug. 23 with Terry Brennan in Rudd Park.
Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets.
“I always love all of the music,” Bachmann said. “It’s not that one is better than another. It’s all unique and beautiful. It’s great – when there’s the pressures of society – that we have these things for our soul.”