Sweetwater Festival promises "mixed bag" of entertainment for everyone

The annual festival takes place once again on the farm of Emilie and Larry Mattson, located about two kilometres west of Rolla on the Sweetwater Road, from Sept. 2-4. The entertainment begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and continues right up until Sunday afternoon.

"It's a very mixed bag again, but it should be good for everyone, including kids," said festival organizer Inge-Jean Mattson.

One of the musical acts featured that weekend will be festival-favourites Mamaguroove from Dunster, BC, who play a live show that should not be missed. The group is currently touring behind a new album. Other notables include Kinnie Starr – a veteran and award-winning singer, songwriter and producer from Calgary who blends hip hop and alternative rock influences into her own unique and intelligent sound – and Acres and Acres – who were nominated as Group Recording of the Year at this year's East Coast Music Awards for their debut album, "All Nations."

"We are their only Western stop, and they're quite pumped to come out west," said Mattson about the band from Halifax.

She added a number of local bands from Rolla, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and around the Peace region will perform as well.

There will also be a number of literary and poetry readings hosted by Dawson Creek poet Donna Kane, and visual arts displays set up inside their gallery, barns and granaries, said Mattson.

On the agricultural side, the festival will include stock (sheep) dog demonstrations, pony and carriage rides, butter churning and ice cream making. There also promises to be lots of entertainment and activities for children.

The Sweetwater Festival has never shied away from exploring controversial topics. Guest speakers in the past have included environmental activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki who spoke about, among other topics, her opposition to the proposed Site C Dam last year, and Marc Emery, a marijuana advocate who spoke in 2009, before he was extradited to the United States where he is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for selling cannabis seeds across the border.

This year, the festival will include a screening of the film, "Wiebo's War," about the controversial Ludwig family from Hythe, Alta., and their battle with the oil and gas industry. Wiebo Ludwig was suspected by police of being behind the bombings of natural gas installations in the Dawson Creek area in 2008 and 2009, and he was arrested and his farm raided in January, 2010, though he was never charged. Ludwig was convicted in 2001 of bombing sour gas wells in southern Alberta and served about a year and a half in jail.

"This film will be really good, I think, because it's based fairly locally – it takes place just across the (Alberta) border – and it's a fairly well known story," said Mattson, adding they will host director David York for a panel discussion following the screenings on Saturday and Sunday evening.

Mattson said there is plenty of space for camping at the farm, including quiet spots for families, as well as spots closer to the main stage.

Advance tickets can be purchased for $50 at the Rolla Store; at Read's Books, Peace Photographics and the Art Gallery in Dawson Creek; or at Whole Wheat and Honey or Patch Java in Fort St. John. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate – $60 for the whole weekend, or $40 per day.

Be sure to check out the festival website at www.sweetwater905.ca. in the coming weeks as it will be updated shortly with a complete list of acts and a schedule of events, and includes contact information and directions to the farm.