Thousands head downtown for MissionFest

The crowds filled First Avenue Saturday as the major thoroughfare was closed to vehicle traffic for MissionFest.

The crowds filled First Avenue Saturday as the major thoroughfare was closed to vehicle traffic for MissionFest.

Mission’s downtown was packed with people on Saturday, as the district closed down First Avenue to host the inaugural MissionFest.

According to downtown business owner and chief organizer, Rhett Nicholson, crowds ranged between 3,000 and 5,000 people throughout the day.

“The streets were completely filled all day for the whole event,” he said, adding that even optimistic organizers were surprised at the turnout.

“I don’t think anyone really realized how big it was going to be because there was so much going on that weekend.”

Nicholson is referring to the third annual Rockin’ River Music Festival that was going on simultaneously at Mission Raceway Park, featuring some of the best country music B.C. has to offer. But far from competing for spectators, Nicholson said they complemented one another.

The starring attraction was the final showdown of the Rockin’ River karaoke contest of winners from 10 different B.C. cities and towns, with the winner getting to sing in the Rockin’ River Fest itself.

Another big crowd pleaser was the show n’ shine that brought in 75 flashy, modified and vintage automobiles. Nicholson said it was a welcome influx given only 45 people pre-registered.

He said at one point it looked like a scene from the 1950s with all the vintage cars lined along First Avenue.

For a first-time event, Nicholson said it drew unexpected interest and added that Mayor James Atebe has already said it should be held again next year.