When: June 30 – August 7
Where: Duncan, B.C.
What began as a 10-day celebration of the city of Duncan’s centennial has turned into a free annual 39-day music festival—aptly named “39 Days of July.”
Organized by the Duncan Cowichan Festival Society, the event runs from June 30 to August 7, or “long weekend to long weekend.” It takes place at Charles Hoey Memorial Park with free live music from noon until 8 p.m.
The festival board members limit the park to musical acts only during the event, with the goal of encouraging visitors to patronize the restaurants and shops that downtown Duncan has to offer.
“Because Duncan is off the highway, we needed a way to draw people into downtown to check out how vibrant we are as a business community, and music is wonderful way to do so,” says founder and artistic director Longevity John, who also runs the Duncan Showroom, a venue for local and travelling musicians. “By including touring artists with local musicians, we offer the sharing of the stage and ideas within the vast musical community.”
There will, however, be a few other events at the festival. The Cowichan Valley Arts Council will be more involved this year, with activities like their Fast & Furious Door Paint-On. During this event, teams of three or four from various local banks, businesses, or societies will paint bi-folding doors to be auctioned off as garden ornaments.
“Visitors from up and down the Island have discovered this event, and the park fills up every night, as do our city square events,” Longevity says. “Many returnees are devoted to the 39 Days of July. Local performers do return each year and sometimes the touring acts from across Canada ask to come back.” Some of the acts this year include Victoria’s Band of Rascals and Towers and Trees, and Rae Spoon—the subject and composer of the score for the 2014 National Film Board–produced musical-documentary, “My Prairie Home,” which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2014.
Canada Day at the 39 Days of July will be particularly special. There will be live music from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the park and again in the Duncan City Square at 8:30 p.m. A ball hockey tournament will take place at the train station from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and free cake will be served at to the public 4 p.m. in the park.
Longevity credits the festival for fostering an inclusive community and local relationships. “All are welcome to come together in a community fashion to share the joys of music,” he says. “Community for 39 days means the acknowledgement of new relationships made on the concept of sharing—proving we do live in ‘a rather fun place to be.’”
— Ryann Anderson