MERRITT, B.C. — One day after the music died at a popular country festival in B.C.’s southern Interior, a Vancouver-based group is tuning up a plan to save it, but their efforts could hit some sour legal notes.

 

The longtime operator of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival is mulling legal action over a proposal by the International Network of Independent Recording Artists to operate the event in 2010.

 

International Network has announced plans to change the 17-year-old festival in Merritt, B.C., from a four-day country music event to a combined rock and country format focused on independent musicians.

 

But Active Mountain Entertainment president Claude Lalievre is fuming about the speedy announcement, and the group’s suggestion that it will proceed with its own festival if a deal can’t be reached.

Lalievre says he had planned preliminary discussions with International Network in Vancouver on Thursday, but those arrangements are off while he contacts his lawyer.

Lalievre announced Monday that his Merritt-based, family-run company could no longer afford the financial burden of operating the festival, forcing him to scrap future shows.