I have had issues with Bluesfest in the past. Mostly just a rough run in with some security staff who poorly handled my request for assistance (as advised by police) RE: accessibility needs. It’s old news. I’ve learned from that run-in and I hope Bluesfest and their subcontracted workers have, too.
I did not attend the music festival last year so this time around, I didn’t want to miss out! Despite what happened in 2016, I 100% do not hold a grudge against what I consider to be one of the most fun times in Ottawa. I had to go.
Beck, Sturgill Simpson, The Strumbellas, M. Ward and the Foo Fighters (to name a few) were all top notch.
Lines were lengthy to get in but moved very quickly. I did not require assistance with the festival’s A-Team (accessibility volunteers) this year, though I have heard through a few friends that they were very helpful. This is obviously great news!
I also noticed that a few music lovers with accessibility challenges had some struggles with Bluesfest reps, which can be wildly soul sucking (I know). To this, I wonder if Bluesfest would be interested in partnering with a person or team who’d be willing to prearrange accommodations for individuals with unique needs to ensure everyone is able to enjoy this glorious festival. A liaison who connects with the individual or their care worker who can get their needs met or heard prior to the event in order to best judge whether or not a day at Lebreton is feasible.
One woman who’s story really hit me, was Katie. I saw Katie’s story unfold on Twitter. A stage 4 cancer patient desperate to see the Foo Fighters was allegedly told it wasn’t a good idea for her to attend as she could not be promised an accessible place to sit, nor access to her vehicle should she become overwhelmed or need medicine.
Another person who voiced her concerns via Twitter was a young woman named Samantha. Samantha, again, had very unique issues holding her back but she didn’t want to miss her favourite act, Greta Van Fleet. Luckily, she ended up being able to make it after making some contact with the group (via social media).
Many friends have reached out to me personally asking for guidance when it comes to Bluesfest’s accessibility. I never did get an apology or answers of any kind... I don’t need or really ever expect that. What satisfies me is hearing about the positive changes that have been made and are continuing to be made. I have faith that people want to help. No one wants to put other people down. Music is what unites us. It shouldn’t discriminate.
When a friend (who’s young son needs assistance getting around) asked me if I knew of any parking allowances or accessibility aids that might help her family have a carefree evening at Lebreton. I sent her some links but decided to go the extra mile to ask questions in person (of BF staff and War Museum reception, for on site parking).
I live close to the grounds and now, with my motorcycle, it is very easy to scoot somewhere and ask questions without really leaving the bike!
I spoke with two security members (same company from 2016) who were very understanding with my questions & why I was asking them. They said that the family could drive in through the gate to have their son (and a parent) dropped off in a non stressful way right by the front gates. They would have to do it pre-5pm as the roads close, but HEY! That’s something, right?
An accessible drop zone, that would be huge.
For persons who do not have accounts with ParaTranspo (which can be tricky to set up, especially for just one event/outing), some understanding and cooperation with Bluesfest regarding a hassle free drop off/pick up zone would be incredibly helpful.
How do you ensure this area doesn’t get abused? A liaison working with the accessibly challenged AND the festival would have it all planned out ahead of time.
While I understand that many persons with accessibility issues have deeply unique and possibly intersecting ailments, I want to believe that what is being done to accommodate such individuals could go further. Some people will not be able to attend. I get it. Some people could attend, but need help planning their day/night out to ensure the best chance of success.
Let’s help everyone enjoy this great festival.
Furthermore, I helped myself out by buying one of these inflatable couch thingies which is very awkward and embarrassing to set up but once inflated, it provided hours of comfort and helped me rest up for maximum fun (and the walk home). If you have rheumatoid arthritis or an ailment that makes walking/standing hard, these inflatable thingies are super compact (when deflated), lightweight (less than 1kg) and very comfortable (the brand I got is Vansky). A newfound festival staple!
STANDOUT MEMORIES from this year: the additional toilets are great! Noticed heightened security and a larger police presence (IMO: also great) and Beck. Wow, Beck was gooooood.
Thanks for another year of big names playing in our backyard, Bluesfest. Til we meet again.
*July 15th: Originally posted from my phone, will likely undergo format editing to add more context and style.
**July 16th: Has been edited to include multimedia and direct links to sourced content.