It’s hard to believe that 2012 is already quickly coming to a close. Here at Shambhala HQ, we’ve been busily working on 2013 since the beginning of October, so our “New Year” has come and gone.
Tickets have gone on sale, and are nearly 50% sold out (Early Bird tickets sold out in just 22 minutes). 2012 plans are being reviewed and adjusted. Documents are being revised. Ideas for next year’s show are freely flowing. The pace feels slow compared to the constant pressure and adrenaline rush of summer, but excitement and creativity are in the air.
The beginning of a new year is generally a time of reflection, and I find that it’s no exception when we close the 15th chapter of Shambhala and move on to the next.
Shambhala 2012 was my 10th Shambhala, my 5th in a working role with the organization. Personally, I really feel like I’ve grown up with the festival. Shambhala has blessed me with deep, enduring friendships, more joy than I thought there could be in life, and deepened my compassion for fellow human beings. Shambhala has literally made me who I am.
And the festival has grown too. While it hasn’t grown in # of ticket holders for several years – ticket sales are still capped at 10,000 – we behind the scenes here in Nelson, have definitely been on a journey of personal and professional growth. Each year, we challenge ourselves to put on a better festival. Our festival’s operational teams grow stronger. Our systems get a little bit tighter. And while, I wouldn’t say it gets easier – people are such a huge and unpredictable variable and there are always unique challenges each year – we as a team have gained the experience to handle whatever is thrown at us… all while throwing a really great party.
In 2012, we received more recognition for our innovation and excellence than ever before.
In March, we won “Best Large Event” at the Breakspoll International Breakbeat Awards for the 2nd year in a row.
Also in March, we were nominated to for “Best Event” at the International Dance Music Awards (IDMA’s) – although we didn’t win, we were in the category along with gargantuan festivals like Ultra, Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrowland. We were the little guy, and it was an honour to be nominated among the more well known electronic music events.
In April, we were named Business of the Year by the Nelson Chamber of Commerce for our contributions to our local community – including our donation to Selkirk College, which allowed them to renovate their music student’s performance space, and re-open at Shambhala Music & Performance Hall. While not a global award, this was a huge milestone for us. To be honoured within our own community meant so much.
Then came the Haas & Wilkerson Gold Pinnacle Awards at the 57th Annual International Festival & Events Association (IFEA) Convention & Expo in Denver, Colorado in September – at which, we took home 8 awards.
We couldn’t believe it. We won an award in every category we were entered in.
“This prestigious awards competition strives for the highest degree of excellence in festival and event promotions and operations, and in doing so, has raised the standards and quality of the festivals and events industry to new levels,” reads the IFEA website.
To give you an idea of the vast diversity of festivals represented at IFEA, other winning entries came from organizations such as the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, DC; Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, Houston, Texas; Kentucky Derby Festival, Louisville, Ky.; 500 Festival, Indianapolis, Ind.; Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Denver, Colo.; Hanseong Bakje Cultural Festival, Seoul, Korea; Showtime Events, New Delhi, India; World Gourmet Summit, Singapore; Rotterdam Festivals, The Netherlands and more.
At the Silver level, we won Best Miscellaneous Multimedia for the blog you’re reading right now.
And at the Gold level, we brought home 5 awards; Best Social Media Site for our Facebook Page, which now has over 77,000 fans.
[Between the FB page, and the win for the blog, I was speechless. Ecstatic. My babies won awards! It feels so amazing to have your work recognized on an international scale. Wow.]
Best New Merchandise were the Handmade Shambhala Quilts, collaboration between the festival’s graphic artist Meghan Hildebrand and owner of the Salmo River Ranch Sue Bundschuh, along with a handful of Salmo quilters.
Best New Product or Service went to the ShambhaLodging camping accommodations package – this kind of service is widely available at festivals in the UK, and at some larger events in the US, but is still quite rare in North America. Props to Megan Booth, who has been overseeing the project since 2011.
Best Vendor / Supplier went to Bolli Imports, a vendor that has been with us for over 10 years and has some of the most popular festival-wear available at Shambhala every summer.
And finally, best Best Pin or Button was the “Toilet Police” Button.
Overall, I think our accomplishments this year have been pretty incredible. It was truly one of the most challenging and rewarding Shambhala’s I’ve had the pleasure of working on.
I’d say I’m looking forward to next year – but it’s already here. 2013, full steam ahead.
See you on the farm in 264 days. They’ll fly by faster than you think.