Rockin’ River location sought by organizers

Mission Raceway Park might not be available for 2012.

Rockin'River co-organizer Kenny Hess addresses Mission council Monday surrounding the future of the festival.

Rockin'River co-organizer Kenny Hess addresses Mission council Monday surrounding the future of the festival.

The Rockin’ River country music festival drew thousands to Mission in August, but uncertainty of a home for next year’s event forced the organizer to appeal to council Monday for help.

Kenny Hess said while he’s been negotiating with Mission Raceway Park, where it’s been hosted the previous three years, there are conflicts that may prevent a fourth.

Hess was denied a temporary land use permit in the Agricultural Land Reserve by the commission overseeing it earlier this year. The decision has led to the direct intervention by Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes, who has tried to get the commission to revisit the decision.

The third option is to host it in Fraser River Heritage Park, like the Mission Folk Music Festival, but the problem is that the park board generally approves only registered charities. Although Rockin’ River has donated $60,000 to local charities in the past three years, it isn’t a registered not-for-profit.

Coun. Jenny Stevens, who also sits on the park board, said although not compliant with policy, the importance of the event outweighs the rulebook.

Hess said if all three options fail, the festival could be moved to Harrison Mills or Cloverdale where hosting offers have been made. But he doesn’t want that.

“We started this to put on a festival in our home,” said the Mission-raised Hess. “We want to keep it here.”

Council reaffirmed its support to assist Hess in finding a location for 2012.