New Brunswick

Evolve Festival hosts 120 acts in new location

The 17th instalment of the Evolve music festival is underway after moving from its usual site in Antigonish, N.S to Beersville, near Moncton.

The 17th annual festival will starts Thursday night in its new New Brunswick location

Jonas Colter at the new Evolve location in Beersville New Brunswick, just north of Moncton. Evolve kicks off Thursday. (CBC)

The 17th instalment of the Evolve music festival is underway after moving from its usual site in Antigonish, N.S. to Beersville, near Moncton.

The three-day festival was forced to move after organizers missed a deadline to produce a medical plan.

Festival organizer, Jonas Colter says its no easy task putting together an annual festival.

"Every year it's quite a mission to make Evolve work, it's definitely never been turn key. There's always been challenges. Obviously with the move in nine weeks it's incredibly challenging."

Festival staff have turned a nearly 500-acre farm into a concert site.

Colter says that while they did not wish to move the festival from its original site in Antigonish, it gave them the opportunity to expand.

One of the four stages will be open and presenting a lineup of various acts headlined by BC duo SkiiTour.

But according to Colter, the move hasn't warded off festival goers.

"I don't think it's the changes that scare people so much, as it is the weather."

According to Colter, a few thousand tickets have already been sold and they are hoping to have up to 5,000 attendees during the weekend.

Harm reduction strategies

In the past Evolve has had paramedics on-site and they made the call about whether an attendee needed emergency care at a hospital. This year that decision must be made by a doctor.

The changes come following last year's festival when a 21-year-old man died after he collapsed at the concert site. An autopsy said his death was due to natural causes.

Katarina Stein is part of a volunteer led initiative called the Tea Hive Collective.

The Halifax-based organization provides safe and quiet spaces for concert goers under the effect of psychoactive drugs at music festivals across Atlantic Canada.

They have a tent set up next to the medical tent at Evolve.

"We don't support or condone the use of anything, but we're here for anyone who's having a rough time, no matter what state they're in," she said.

"We supply resources like water and earplugs and Gatorade and that kinda stuff so people are harmed less in whatever they're doing."

Colter says he is aware of drug use at Evolve and says they do everything they can do prevent it, but realizes drug use will continue to take place over the weekend.

"We're searching cars, we got a great security team here, but it's gonna happen, we know it is. So I think it's important to be proactive and not to turn a blind eye," Colter said

Looking ahead

Over 120 musical acts will be performing at Evolve, including Danny Brown, Like a Motorcycle, Dub Kartel, Scientists of Sound and Skratch Bastid.

There will also be various workshops on topics ranging from glass-blowing to circus performance.

The move has given Colter the possibility for expansion.

"We've invested hundreds of thousands of dollars there over the years that we've had to leave behind. Mostly, roadwork and ditches and pads and such, fencing, buildings. It was like starting from scratch."

Luckily we got to redesign the whole site, do it from the beginning, project 5 to 10 years ahead where we'd like to be.

He says he'd like to see the festival expand to welcome anywhere between eight to 12 thousand people.