WTFest attracts 6,500

Vincent Ball

By Vincent Ball, Brantford Expositor

Organizers of WTFest are pleased with the results of this year’s day-long rock concert but changes to better highlight local talent are being planned for the 2018 festival.
“We’ve always done what we can to promote the local music scene and talent,” event organizer Jamie Stephens said Tuesday. “What we want to do next year is have fewer local bands play longer sets.
“We want to feature the local bands that really want to be at WTFest and give them more time on stage.”
A major challenge of staging a large outdoor concert is maintaining the schedule. If a band’s sound check runs a little late that affects the rest of the line-up and often it’s the local bands that suffer, Stephens said.
“Believe me when I say it’s no fun to have to go to a local band and tell them that they can only play three songs instead of five or six because of timing.. “What I think we’ve learned over the past three years is that the local bands would benefit from having more time on the WTFest stage and maybe inspire other local bands.”
This year’s festival, held at Lion’s Park, featured Our Lady Peace, Tonic, Collective Soul and Soul Asylum, Treble Charger and Sumo Cyco, as well as several local bands. The event attracted an estimated 6,500 people.
“I think, with the bands we brought in, we really captured the 1990s theme that we were
looking for,” Stephens said. “It was like hearing my high school play list live and getting a chance to meet the performers.
“Collective Soul was awesome and so was Our Lady Peace. Most of the feedback we’ve received has been positive.”
Earlier this year, organizers decided to allow people to purchase tickets “blind” at a reduced price without knowing the line-up of performers.
“We sold a lot of tickets that way and it was really gratifying because that means people trust us to put on a good show,” Stephens said. “We’re also happy to see that we brought in a lot of people from out of town.
“We had people from Texas, Florida and California come in for the show and that’s something that helps us and helps Brantford.”
One of the challenges this year was to create a show that people would pay to see during a summer when there are a lot of free concerts being held to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.
“A lot of the Canadian bands we looked at were already booked doing free concerts,” Stephens said. “One of the things we had to ask ourselves in planning this year’s show is why would people pay money to see a band on our weekend when they could see the band for free somewhere else a week later.
“But I think by bringing in the acts we did, we put on a show that people were willing to support.”
There is a five-year plan to build WTFest and eventually outgrow Lion’s Park. But for now the park is working and the festival benefitted from having the Boys’ and  Girls’ Club building right next door.
“We really appreciate being able to use that building and the artists really like it, as well,” Stephens said. “It gives them a great place to stay prior to going on stage.
“They can bring their families and kids and spend time shooting hoops or playing floor hockey before going on stage.”