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Following the Demise of Vancouver Folk Fest, Merritt Rockin’ River Fest and Grand Forks’ CannaFest Shut Down

Fraser Valley/Vancouver/Merritt/Grand Forks BC (with files from CTV/Canadian Press)- The current financial environment added to what the COVID pandemic did to the arts economy, and the butterfly effect is there.

On the heels of the closure of the long standing Vancouver Folk Festival. comes word of the closure of the annual Merritt Rockin’ River Music Fest, as well as CanaFest.

Organizers of the Merritt-based Rockin River Music Festival announced on their website that the event would not return this year.

Organizers cite “the economic obstacles” were too much to bare.

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Squamish Constellation Festival also cited economic troubles when announcing their own cancellations earlier in January 2023.

(FYI the Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society said it intended to dissolve itself and end the event permanently).

Since then, several interested parties have come forward with proposals to keep the folk festival alive, and the society has postponed its Annual General Meeting in order to explore its options.).

In their statement, Rockin’ River organizers did not say whether the event would return in the future, but did leave the door open to doing so.

“We want to thank the City of Merritt, who has always welcomed us with open arms, the incredible artists, staff and most importantly – you, the fans, many of whom have been loyal since year one,” the statement concludes. “We hope to see you again soon.” 


With CannaFest, Organizers Chuck Vabio and Chasieri Ippielp posted to Facebook: Today is an emotional day for me. After 8 years I have made the difficult decision to cancel CannaFest/Canada Rock Fest 2023. This decision was not an easy one because I love what I have done over the last 8 years. Many of you who know me know I have serious lung issues. In the past 5 years I have spent weeks in the hospital not being able to breathe, been told I may have lung cancer on multiple occasions, been told I have COPD, all which have been proven false. They had even discussed a double lung transplant. My latest lung test has me at 30% lung function. That is the same as removing one of your lungs and 1/3 of your other one. My specialists have switched me to a new medication in the hopes it would improve and I would see a major improvement, it has gotten worse. So for the sake of living I have to take some time for myself to get healthy. I am not sure what the future holds but I am grateful for the past 8 years and wouldn’t change much, lol. All ticket holders will be refunded in full. I will be sending out an email and posting on all of our social media in the coming days. So from Chasieri Ippielp , Riza and Myself a big thank you to everybody who supported us over the years and we’ll see you again one day.

Darby Mills (ex-Headpins) responded with a tribute and thank you as that festival reinvigorated her career with her band Darby Mills Project :

Thank you Cannafest /Canada Rock Fest. You were part of the reason DMP got off the ground. Thank You Chuck. Here’s to healthy days ahead.

Darby Mills Project/Facebook

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