Sturgis moves to Merritt

Sturgis North is back, hoping, it seems, for third-time lucky.

Now named Sturgis Canada, the music festival and motorcycle rally will be held Aug. 21-24 in Merritt.

A news release issued Thursday announced that the festival has reached an agreement with the City of Merritt to set up on the former site of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival.

“The 2014 festival is organized by a new team, led by Joan Hansen, president of Sturgis Canada, who admits to learning a lot from organizers of past festivals,” states the press release.

“Merritt is known for its music, and we are very proud to bring Sturgis Canada to one of Canada’s best possible locations for a music festival,” Hansen is quoted in the release. “In addition to a new team from across Canada and the U.S., we’ve also hired some of Merritt’s top local organizers to ensure we meet the city’s expectation for a high-quality event.”

The release states that organizers chose a new name to better reflect “the national and international appeal of the festival and its music.”

Speaking for Sturgis Canada is media relations person Summer Shaw.

Asked about the statement that Joan Hansen “admits to learning a lot from organizers of past festivals” when she actually was one of the key organizers of both festivals, working with Ray Sasseville, Shaw apologized if the statement is misleading.

“Before Ray and Joan made all the decisions, they basically were the team, whereas this year, they were really honest with themselves and just said, ‘you know, look we recognize that we need to really expand our team and bring on people that are really good at what they do, so it’s not as personal, it’s not really about us. Even though we’re behind it, we founded it, we’re not the ones putting it on.’ There’s a whole group of people, such as ourselves,” said Shaw, “there’s just a lot more people involved, so it’s much more of a professional event, at least in terms of perception. Having not been involved in previous years, I can’t comment personally, but just from what I’ve been informed, that’s what I was told. But I do know that this year, there are some really great people on board. The whole team from the branding specialists, to the designers, to the media reps, there’s just a lot of good people. That way they (Hansen and Sasseville) can step back and let people that have been doing what they’ve been doing for years, take it where it needs to go.”

The first Sturgis North festival and motorcycle rally was held in 2011 in Salmon Arm and on Neskonlith Indian Band land nearby; the 2012 Sturgis North was located at the Spallumcheen Motoplex Speedway in Spallumcheen near Vernon; and a third in 2013 was proposed for Silvery Beach near Chase and, later, Merritt, but was cancelled.

While the two events received some good reviews and some not-so-good reviews from participants, both the 2011 and 2012 events left debts behind them.

A lawsuit initiated in 2012 by the motoplex seeking close to $400,000 from Sturgis North Encore Productions Inc. remains before the courts, and some Salmon Arm businesses who were told they would be paid for their work still have not been.

Regarding finances, Shaw termed the 2014 event “solid.”

“I can say there are good investors on board and they already have the financing in place now.”

She suggested specific requests about past debts be emailed to:

“Each email will be addressed, for sure.”

Entertainers announced so far include rock musician Jasmine Cain as well as biker personalities Rick Dakota, Kimmy Cruz and Jack Schit. Two stages are proposed, as well as camping and events such as bike games, burnout competitions and a battle of the bands.


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