Council approves festival pitch from teen
By Chad Ingram
Dysart et al councillors gave the green light to a proposal from a local young person for a small water sports and musical festival in Head Lake Park on Aug. 24.
Council was visited by Abe Churko during their July 23 meeting, Churko requesting permission to use the park for a one-day event that would entail wake boarding on Head Lake beginning midday, and live music in the park’s bandshell by five or six acts later in the day.
“I feel like there’s not a lot for young people to do in Haliburton,” Churko, 19, told councillors. He explained the organizers and performers were mostly his friends, most from Haliburton County and a few from Toronto.
“I don’t want it to be too complicated this year,” Churko said, explaining he intended to charge an admission fee of maybe $10 in hopes of recovering costs, and that the event would not include the sale of alcohol.
“That makes it easier because you don’t have to fence,” said Mayor Andrea Roberts, who also noted the lack of alcohol sales made insurance less complicated and less expensive as well. Churko said he planned to have a few vendors and Roberts said it would be important to have some food and water available for people.
“Stuff really is needed in the community for young people,” said Councillor Larry Clarke. Clarke noted normally there would be a longer approval process for such an event, but in the absence of an events and recreation programming committee meeting this month, the matter had come directly to council.
Clarke said he thought managing wake boarding spectators could be a challenge.
“To me, it causes more complexity trying to manage the site,” he said.
Churko, who’s been working with Dysart recreation program co-ordinator Andrea Mueller on the concept, said he estimated attendance would be about 300, and that the event would be relegated to the area of Head Lake Park surrounding the bandshell.
Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy wondered what the situation would be regarding washrooms. Churko said it was his intention for attendees to use the public washrooms located at the park, and Mueller said the anticipated attendance was under the threshold requiring an event organizer to rent public toilets.
Kennedy, who is the former EMS director for Haliburton County, also suggested Churko get in touch with the fire department and EMS to let them know about his plans.
A number of councillors commented how nice it was to see a young person in council chambers and getting involved in the community.
“I think we should commend you, and help you any way we can,” said Councillor Walt McKechnie.
The event is to be called The Athwart Hearts Music Festival, and when Roberts asked what the name meant, Churko explained that “athwart” was essentially a synonym for “sideways,” and was meant as a reference to wake boarding and skateboarding.