From farm to stadium: Armstrong Metal Fest's humble beginnings - InfoNews

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From farm to stadium: Armstrong Metal Fest's humble beginnings

Insurance broker and festival co-founder Bretton Melanson.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Bretton Melanson
July 11, 2019 - 7:00 AM

ARMSTRONG - This weekend more than 600 heavy metal fans will head to the Interior Exhibition Grounds for the 11th annual Armstrong Metal Fest.

With more than 30 metal bands playing during the weekend, the festival has made a name for itself in heavy metal circles and will see fans travel all across Western Canada and the Northwest U.S. to camp out and headband the night away.

The festival has come a long way since the then 20-year-old co-founder Bretton Melanson asked his parents to allow him to hold a small heavy metal festival on their Spallumcheen farm in 2009.

"Being that my parents love me very much they let it happen," Melanson said.

Along with friend Jessie Valstar, Melanson organized a flatbed truck to be used as a stage, got 11 bands to play and his dad manned the barbeque all weekend as 150 people turned up and camped at the festival.

Following a successful run at the farm the year later, the pair looked for a bigger venue in Armstrong.

"To start with, the community was quite concerned about having a heavy metal festival in Armstrong," Melanson said.

A public meeting was held that Valstar attended.

"This poor 22-year-old kid, up against the whole town trying to plead his case."

Melanson wasn't at the meeting but whatever Valstar said won them over and the festival got the okay to take place at Hassen Arena at the Interior Exhibition Grounds in Armstrong.

"Year one we proved we could do what we said we could," Melanson said. There was no trouble or vandalism, which locals had said was a concern, and they kept a tight lid on drunk driving.

"The RCMP said we're better behaved than the softball tournament that came through," he said.

Now ten years later, Melanson is an insurance broker and proud father and one of five members that make up the not-for-profit organizing committee, West Metal Entertainment Society.

Melanson said the main demographic for the festival is males between 18 and 35 years old, but quite a cross-section of society  show up to see bands such as Origin, Nekrogoblikon, Betraying The Martyrs, Death Machine and many more.

For the first year, the festival has European bands playing, as well as American bands, and a bunch from the Okanagan. Melanson is the drummer in the band Nomad who will also take to the stage. Playing live, Melanson said, is "second only to when my son was born."

The festival may have gotten bigger over the years but financially it's still tough.

"We don't make money that's for sure," Melanson said. "We've broken even a couple of times."

So why does he do it?

"It's the kind of event I want to go to... so we're doing our best to make sure there's one here," he said.

Armstrong Metal Fest takes place at the Interior Exhibitions Ground and Hassen Arena, Armstrong July 12 and 13. Advance tickets cost $135 or $175 at the door. Tickets cover both days and camping.

For more information go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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