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Rockin’ River Music Fest in Merritt cancelled due to financial struggles

Announcement follows Vancouver Folk Fest, Squamish Constellation Festival cancellations

The Rockin’ River Music Fest in Merritt is cancelled this year, with organizers making the same difficult decision other music festivals in the province have had to make.

Rockin’ River Music Fest organizers said the festival has been met with economic obstacles that it can’t overcome.

“With the rise in cost of entertainment and everything else, we needed a lot more people,” Rockin River founder Kenny Hess told the Merritt Herald, citing last year’s ticket sales.

“I would estimate that the turnout was about 30 per cent less than what we expected or needed. Combined with the losses we’ve suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic and everything else, the numbers just couldn’t add up.”

Hess said he had taken a back seat with his role in the festival, noting Live Nation, Jukebox Entertainment and the Rockin’ River organization have the more active role and were responsible for deciding to cancel this summer’s festival. 

“Though it wasn’t up to me, I would’ve still made a similar vote to cancel, as I agree that the numbers don’t make sense to continue,” he said. “I want to thank Merritt for being so good to us and want to express how sorry we are that we couldn’t continue to do the festival this year.” 

Other factors that led to the decision include the pandemic, flooding and rising costs to book musicians.

Rockin’ River follows a string of music festival cancellations from earlier this month, including the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Squamish Constellation Festival.