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Snoop couldn’t save festival

The 1000 Islands Music Festival was baited with enough star power toattract the biggest crowd this summer. Unfortunately, partygoers didn'tbite.

The 1000 Islands Music Festival was baited with enough star power to attract the biggest crowd this summer. Unfortunately, partygoers didn't bite.

Not even the last-minute addition of hip-hop heavyweight Snoop Dogg to the festival’s already strong lineup could bolster the meagre crowds that showed up for the event’s three days.

“Maybe all the hype was a curse,” said festival head Rod MacDonald. “It’s pretty hard to replicate an iconic event such as Woodstock.”

Promoters had been optimistic Saturday’s show, with stars including Snoop Dogg, R&B singer Akon and Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall joining acts like Pilot Speed and illScarlett on the mainstage, could boost the weak turnout of the Thursday and Friday shows.

That hope vanished when only about 4,000 of the 15,000 expected patrons showed up Saturday at the 34-hectare farm just north of Gananoque where the event was held.

Those in attendance didn’t seem to care about the numbers as they were treated to a sizzling performance from Snoop, who had them singing along to a string of his hits. Akon spent the tail end of his performance in the crowd and got some support from Offishall in stepping up the tempo. Offishall said the small crowd created a more intimate experience for the fans.

“How many people that come from Kingston or Gananoque can say Kardinal, Akon and Snoop came to Gananoque in the middle of the farm area and rocked a show?” he said. “It’s a big thing for them. When we were rocking, the crowd was just vibing."

Still, it seemed to be mostly locals who supported the event, said Gananoque resident Rita Mccormack.

“It’s disappointing that it didn’t go over big,” said Mccormack, noting the town had been banking on using the festival to draw new tourists to the area recently hit hard by several plant closures. The 69-year-old also speculated that the acts, which were skewed to a young crowd, were a deterrent for more mature concertgoers who otherwise would have attended.

Organizers had hoped to draw the audience not only from the estimated 500,000 people living in nearby municipalities, but also from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and upstate New York.

The festival was intended to have a country and classic-rock flavour, MacDonald told The Canadian Press, but Watson Entertainment, hired to book the acts, persuaded him to try something bold.

“We really wanted to do something that had never been done in the area,” Watson’s Rian Malloch said. “(We’ve) created an event that over the three days spans the age demographics from 12 to 65 years old and has crossed every genre.”

Despite the disappointment, MacDonald said organizers are in it for the long haul. “When you look at some of the successful festivals like the Bluesfest in Ottawa, it really took them four or five years to get a brand name,” he said after the Saturday show.

He also noted that other outdoor events have taken a hit this summer, with advance ticket sales “almost non-existent.”

Just last week, for instance, organizers of the Virgin Festival announced they were moving the show back to Toronto from Burl’s Creek Park north of Barrie. It will now be held at the Molson Amphitheatre Aug. 29 to 30.

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