There was no shortage of mud at the inaugural Tail Creek Mud and Music Festival this past weekend, June 27-29, as both Friday and Saturday welcomed festival goers with a steady drizzle and Sunday soaked them with a constant deluge.
The land where the festival was held has been in Jason Jahner’s family since the 1960s, and for the past seven years the family has hosted a Tough Truck Challenge on its raceway during the Canada Day long weekend.
This year, though, Jahner added music, bringing about the music festival.
“It was one of Dad’s dream to do some sort of festival, mix it in with the racing,” Jahner said. “He just ran out of time.”
Jahner’s father, Fred Salterman, died after a valiant but unsuccessful battle against leukemia in 2010.
Jahner said the time was right to make his father’s dream a reality. The changing demographic of people in the area, now made up of younger, hardworking oil field workers rather than “older farmers” meant the interest in a heavy metal and rock festival would be there.
And it was definitely there; while Jahner didn’t have final numbers yet, he estimated more than 9,000 people passed through the entry gates to catch the concerts and racing.
“There’s nowhere in Canada where you can get the trucks and music (at the same time),” Jahner said.
Hardcore Racing helped Jahner organize the mud bogging and other racing events on the track, while EdgeOne Productions handled the music.
The festival brought in metal juggernaut Korn, as well as bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Theory of a Deadman, Killswitch Engage and more. Three music stages, a main stage and two smaller, were set up for the various entertainments.
Calgary’s Chris Stewart travelled to Tail Creek for the music festival, entirely unaware there was a racing event.
“My friend called and said, ‘Hey, come to the music festival at Tail Creek!’ so I did,” he said.
Despite the rain and the mud, Stewart said he “enjoyed everything about the festival.” The concerts, especially Korn and Killswitch Engage, were fantastic, he added.
He and his friend Shelby Herchuk had set up a trailer in the mud and were hiding out from the rain for a bit, but both said they were looking forward to the Five Finger Death Punch concert later on Sunday.
The event ran smoothly inside the gates for the most part, Jahner said, until wind gusts of 50 mph on Sunday forced the festival to cancel shows on the main stage and the secondary Bacardi stage.
That meant that many acts didn’t perform, including Five Finger Death Punch.
“We simply weren’t willing to jump safety to hold a concert,” Jahner said. He noted that the concerts had gone on safely on both Friday and Saturday, and continued on Sunday on the smallest stage, but the wind gusts were simply too strong and well above what was allowed by the stage manufacturers.
Festival had a case of hiccups
There were a few “hiccups” with the festival, some due to the weather and some due to the inexperience of the organizers of the first-time event, Jahner admitted.
“When you have everyone coming in towing a 40-foot trailer behind him, the lines get long,” he said. The line-ups stretched back out from the site onto the highway, and led to long wait times at the gate for people trying to enter the event.
“Any festival in its first year will have its hiccups,” Jahner said.
To combat this problem, next year Jahner is going to open the site during the weekend and week before so people can move their trailers in ahead of time.
Jahner praised the RCMP and other community support agencies who were out at the festival helping keep everyone safe and sound. While there were a few minor incidents, he said that it was well in line with what happened at a typical festival. There were no serious injuries.
The steady downpouring of rain caused problems on Sunday when people tried to leave the site. Security was guiding traffic as it should, Jahner said, but some people, impatient to leave, just drove over the property to find the best way out, whether or not there was a roadway present or not. The soft ground, well soaked, was also torn up pretty bad by the traffic. The three tow trucks, tractor, Trackhoe and excavator were busy all weekend pulling out people who got stuck in the muck.
Jahner is hoping to break even from the first festival, but admitted the cancelled Sunday concerts and the damage to the property is going to soak up a lot of money.
Still, he’s eager for next year, and the second festival.