Rain, security issues put a damper on Bluesfest 2017 – Ottawa

​Bluesfest 2017 will be remembered for rain, a few security issues and some great performances — but probably the rain above anything else.

Bluesfest spokesperson Joe Reilly said the weather was pretty bad this year, with rain absent only one or two days during the entire 10-day festival. (Mario Carlucci/CBC)

Sets by Live, A Tribe Called Red and Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals were cancelled or cut short Friday because of thunderstorms.

The festival offered passholders the opportunity to come Saturday or Sunday instead.

It wasn’t all bad news: P!nk managed to get through heavy rain during her set on July 9 and it made it kind of special, said Bluesfest spokesperson Joe Reilly.

“She’s on a trapeze for part of the show, she stays out on her thrust stage in the middle of the audience during not just rain, but a torrential downpour … The heavens opened and she just stays there and does the whole thing,” said Reilly in an interview before Sunday’s headlining set by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (which featured only a light drizzle).

Still, the weather could have been better, though there’s not much anyone could have done about it.

“There were two days, I think, during the festival it didn’t rain. Maybe it’s only one. Maybe the rain, the wet summer, has affected some of our walk-up numbers — like people might look out and say, ‘No, not going tonight,’ — but overall, no. We’ve had good crowds for every evening,” Reilly said.

“The weather is the absolute perfect example of anarchy theory played out. You just never know and you have to ride with it.”

Reevaluation after Thursday mishaps

The festival made negative headlines after 10 people were taken to hospital and 200 were assessed on site by paramedics Thursday.

“Certainly on Thursday we had a very young, large, very young, excitable audience down here, and we had a few things that we had [to do] to make sure we’re working to keep people safe and OK. In the end I feel like most people, everybody, was. But right away on Friday we sat down with police and paramedics and reevaluated and said, ‘OK, what do we have to do going forward,'” Reilly said.

“We have hundreds of thousands of visits down here over the duration of the festival. The vast majority of people who come down just want to have a good time and behave well on their way here, on their way home and while they’re here.”

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