The Gathering at Island Lake

Craig Kelly - Gathering - Mark Gallup

Craig Kelly at The Gathering – Mark Gallup Photo

Having grown up in this wonderful place we call home I have so many good memories from being a kid, but some of my earliest best childhood memories are from the Gathering at Island Lake.

The Gathering was a small live music festival that was held at Island Lake Lodge from 1996-2001. To get to the stage from the lodge you had to walk down a hiking trail towards the lake, the trail would cross over a small creek and open up into a beautiful meadow. During the festival the meadow would transform into a crowd of people of all ages. I remember men and women dancing in bare feet with flowers in their hair, a group of people had a side stage with turntables and a disco ball and kids ran around feeling the freedom of the forest.  In the meadow near the stage grounds you could rent teepees by the lake for the weekend, there was live music at night and activities during the day. I remember meeting Scott Schmidt who was one of the organizers, and I also remember hanging out with Craig Kelly who had a strong connection with Island Lake and our family.

As kids we would do arts and crafts during the day, my favourite activity was building mini rafts out of sticks and racing them down the creek. I remember the stinging nettle at the edge of the creek bitting at our skin as we ran trying to see if our craft would make it to the lake without flipping.

The Gathering was my first concert experience and I will never forget the live shows we saw there. Some of my favourites were McGnarlies Rant, TheRheostatics and Keith Greeninger. During the night we would watch the music with our folks and play hide and seek in the dark with our friends. There were so many of us kids, and many are people I still hang out with today.

The experiences we had at The Gathering in those early years of life affected me, without a doubt in a very positive way. My brother and I were just old enough for our parents to let us run wild and what I remember the most from The Gathering is the feeling of being free.

The Free Press

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