Hundreds vaccinated at pop-up clinic hosted by Escapade music festival

Hundreds of people turned up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on Saturday at a pop-up clinic held by the organizers of an electronic dance music festival in partnership with the city's public health department.

Organizers partner with Ottawa Public Health to encourage vaccination before September electronic dance event

Ali Shafaee, director of the Escapade Music Festival, says the decision to require concertgoers to be fully vaccinated is in the best interest of the festival and its attendees. (Alexander Behne/CBC )

Hundreds of people turned up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at a pop-up clinic held on Saturday by the organizers of an electronic dance music festival in partnership with the city's public health department.

The setup at the event  — initiated by Escapade Music Festival — was far from a traditional vaccine clinic, and that's exactly why some people say they showed up.

University of Ottawa student Emilee Chamberlain is one of the many who registered to get their first dose.

"The Escapade event was a huge draw," Chamberlain said. "The music — it's a different vibe. It's a nice scene."

Held at the RCGT Park baseball stadium, people were met by festival greeters, entertained by a live DJ performance, offered free merchandise and given the chance to win a ticket to next year's festival.

Antoi Shi also showed up to the clinic for her first dose. She said she was surprised by the concertlike atmosphere.

"I came here and saw the DJ, and it was so good. I would come here again," Shi said.  

Festival cancelled 3 times

After cancelling three times due to the pandemic, the Escapade Music Festival recently announced the event will go ahead in September, but only fully vaccinated people can attend.

Ali Shafaee, director of the festival, said he put on the clinic to encourage ticket holders and non-ticket holders to get vaccinated. 

"In order to be the safest event for 2021, we thought this would be the best way to go ... to allow people to attend if they were vaccinated," Shafaee said.

The music festival's demographic is typically younger, with the majority of attendees aged 22 to 25 years old, Shafaee said. 

The Escapade Music Festival will be held on Sept. 3 to 5 after being cancelled three times due to the pandemic. (Escapade Music Festival)

Shafaee said that with the singing, dancing and the fact that some people will be on the concert grounds for up to 12 hours each day, the vaccination requirement adds an extra layer of protection.

The music festival has received some backlash for the decision to require vaccination, with some criticizing it as coercive.

But Shafaee said his team just wants to be able to put on the event for the sake of the music and the fans. 

"Our real audience seems to be embracing the fact that they can go to an event after 18 months and try to do so safely," Shafaee said. 

The 2021 Escapade Music Festival is scheduled for Sept. 3 to 5, and under current government regulations, anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 people could be in attendance. 


Celeste Decaire

CBC Reporter

Celeste Decaire is a reporter with CBC Ottawa. Previously she worked as a senior writer and associate producer for CBC News Network. She can be reached at and on her Twitter account @celestedecaire.

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