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The RBC Ottawa Bluesfest’s Contagious Spirit

The RBC Ottawa Bluesfest’s Contagious Spirit



By Brian Clarke

What it is that makes Bluesfest so successful?  Obviously the excellent line-up the event attracts every single year is a big part of it, but I think there’s more to it than that.

After being at Bluesfest a few times this week, I’ve come down with a severe case of want-to-learn-a-musical-instrument.  Bluesfest’s spirit is contagious.

The more I think about it, this contagious atmosphere is such an oft overlooked but crucial aspect to a successful event.  Think about the contagious patriotism we all catch on Canada Day.  Or how non-fans sometimes get caught up in contagious atmosphere of sports games.

We’ve had other music festivals come and go over the years but none that have become so ingrained in Ottawa’s culture like Bluesfest.  Although I’m not a fan of the genre of music, I hear Escapade is very similar in terms of its contagious atmosphere.  However, more local events should try to learn from and emulate this  spirit that Bluesfest exudes; a spirit that just being around long enough inevitably causes you to get caught up in it and internalize it.

But what makes an event’s spirit, or atmosphere, or brand message contagious? What’s the difference between a good event that consistently draws a good crowd and a great event that becomes a vital part of the Ottawa community and culture? Is it just a matter of time and having an event consistently perform well and draw a large crowd for many years? Or is it something more?

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To that, I don’t have any clue how to answer.