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Discover Laketown Ranch - where music, community, and recreation collide

Often unexpected are the places where dreams are born
Laketown Shakedown. (Colin Smith Takes Pics, courtesy Laketown Shakedown)

By Zoe Lauckner

Take a wine and rib festival in Tampa Bay Florida, add a former NHL player having an unforgettable outdoor musical experience alongside his family, and you could one day end up with Western Canada’s premiere outdoor festival venue, built in a sleepy lakeside community, that draws world class talent from all over North America.

Sound far-fetched?

That’s exactly where the seeds of Laketown Ranch were sowed. But for Greg Adams, in that moment, the dream was only just beginning.

“I looked around and thought, why don’t we have this at home?” shares Adams, reminiscing on that trip 25 years ago. Inspired to bring similar opportunities to his hometown of Duncan, B.C, Adams, a man of action with 10 years in the NHL under his belt, had enough connections to get the ball rolling.

READ MORE: Music festivals galore in Victoria this summer

“I made a couple phone calls, first to Brian Burke, who was the Canucks General Manager at the time and I said, ‘Who do we know in entertainment?’ He connected me with the Feldman Agency and through them, we got 54-40. We put on a small event at Providence Farm in 2001. Then it was Colin James, Blue Rodeo, Tom Cochrane, and it just continued to grow.”

Growth is the central theme of Adam’s musical endeavours over the next two decades. What started as a small festival on a field at the base of Mount Tzouhalem, quickly outgrew the original space - and the next, and the next.

Laketown Shakedown. (Courtesy Laketown Shakedown)

“We started transitioning from Canadian Classic rock to Country music. Then we brought in Alan Jackson and basically sold it out. Next year, we brought in Tim McGraw and oversold it. Then it was Keith Urban and that one was really, really big. It was growing to the point where we were getting tired of moving.”

In 2015, while 17,000 feet above sea level on the way to Mount Everest Base Camp, Adams’ phone pinged with news. He’d just finalized the deal on the 252-acre property now fondly referred to as Laketown Ranch.

“The zoning and permits were granted in January of 2016 and we had Carrie Underwood on the stage that August,” Laketown festival director Mike Hann reminisces, with an air of nostalgia. Hann has worked alongside Adams since the beginning and credits his vision and determination for Laketown’s growth and success.

“Greg, his family and his friends - everyone had been working night and day. It was a crazy accomplishment to go from a barren wasteland to being a world-class festival venue in a matter of eight months. But seeing Underwood come on stage, that was a goosebump moment.”

Looking back, that accomplishment was just the starting line. Since that first show seven years ago, Laketown has evolved into a festival venue unlike any other in Western Canada.

Laketown Shakedown site. (TFalkChalmers, courtesy Laketown Shakedown)

Where Nature and Entertainment Merge

Laketown Ranch isn’t just a festival venue; it’s a harmonious blend of music and nature, entertainment and adventure, all set against the breathtaking backdrop of the serene landscapes of Youbou on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

As festival-goers arrive, they’re greeted by sweeping vistas of lush forests and rolling hills, creating a unique atmosphere that sets the stage for the musical experience. The ranch’s expansive grounds provide ample space to enjoy the four permanent stages, massive campgrounds, and various recreational activities, ensuring that attendees can immerse themselves in both the entertainment and natural beauty that surrounds them.

Campsite at Laketown Shakedown. (Chaisson, courtesy Laketown Shakedown)

Staying at the Ranch

For the full festival experience, Laketown offers a range of camping and accommodation options that allow attendees to stay on-site for the event’s duration.

“You’re not going to find another festival ground that I can think of with so many guest amenities,” shares Hann.

“Here you can not only camp, but camp comfortably. We have flush toilets and showers, permanent food buildings and some really great vendors. People can come and see world-class artists in their backyard with all the creature comforts you can imagine. It’s a really special place.”

Portugal the Man performs at Laketown Shakedown. (Courtesy Laketown Shakedown)

A Diverse Lineup of Talent

Year after year, through their two signature festivals, Laketown curates an eclectic lineup of artists spanning various genres, ensuring that there’s something to satiate any musical desire. From chart-topping headliners to emerging talents on the rise, the festival stages come alive with the sounds of rock, pop, country, hip-hop, and everything in between.

Sunfest, the event that started it all, quickly became British Columbia’s biggest country music festival, drawing in headliners like Toby Keith, Eric Church, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker and Blake Shelton. This year, Keith Urban is the headliner, promising an exhilarating performance in addition to Canadian country singer/songwriter Steven Lee Olsen and American country singers Lee Brice and Cole Swindell. Sunfest happens Aug. 1-4 and tickets are already on sale.

Offering a diverse range of musical genres since 2019, Laketown Shakedown has seen artists such as Snoop Dog, Wu-Tang, Sugar Ray, the Arkells, Smash Mouth, and Portugal the Man grace the stage, to name a few. The headliner this year? None other than international superstar Gwen Stefani. You can catch her, Busta Rhymes, BBNO$, Bone Thugs N Harmony, and so many more on the ranch from June 28-30.

“For some of these artists, normally you’d at least have to travel to Vancouver,” shares Hann. “Because of the ranch, they’ve chosen to come here. You can see this level of talent right here in your backyard. And, it puts eyes on this area which brings in a huge residual economic benefit.”

Laketown Shakedown. (Courtesy Laketown Shakedown)

Community, Connection, and Sustainability

And while the festivals bring lots of attention and economic benefit to the Cowichan Valley, Laketown isn’t just about the big events. At its core, Laketown Ranch is about community and bringing people together. Outside of the festivals, the land is often host to weddings, smaller regional musical events like the Cowichan Bluegrass Festival, used by community-service organizations, or visited by locals who enjoy the vast hiking and biking trails.

“It’s basically a dog park 350 days of the year,” Adams remarks, “because there are people here all the time walking their dogs and other than festival times they’re always welcome.”

Commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship is also woven into the fabric of the ranch. With a strong focus on minimizing the environmental footprint of events while preserving the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, the team is working toward making Laketown carbon neutral, while the community is encouraged to embrace a leave-no-trace approach.

Laketown Shakedown. (Colin Smith Takes Pics, courtesy Laketown Shakedown)

The Next Stage - Laketown Ridge

Greg Adams is a visionary business person and entertainer, with a growth mindset and a heart for bringing the community together. He took a dream and worked tirelessly for decades to turn it into a reality that can now be enjoyed for generations to come. Naturally, the dream hasn’t stopped evolving.

Laketown Ridge is the next stage in Adam’s vision for the property. Currently, in the final planning stages, the Ridge will be built behind the festival site, bringing even more community and connection to the ranch.

“We are putting in a 120-unit RV park for snowbirds in the winter and locals, families and tourists in the summer,” shares Adams. “We have 10 kilometers of trails here already and we’ll be adding a pickleball court, a pump track for kids, a splash pad, swimming pool, and clubhouse.”

Adjacent to the RV park and sharing the amenities will be cabins and cottages offering year-round living.

“Put it all together and there’s a whole little community up there,” Adams remarks. “It will be a hybrid of RV to year-round affordable living, right next to some of the best entertainment around.”

Laketown Ranch serves as a reminder that dreams, when nurtured by passion and perseverance, can truly blossom into something extraordinary. Adams’ dedication to bringing community, culture, entertainment, and recreation together right here in his hometown is immediately evident as you step onto the grounds and begin to absorb all Laketown Ranch has to offer. But don’t just take our word for it - find out for yourself by visiting Laketown Ranch this year.

The construction site for Laketown Ridge. (Courtesy Laketown Shakedown)

2024 Laketown Ranch Events:

Cowichan Valley Bluegrass - June 14-16

Michael Cleveland, Missy Raines & Allegheny, Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms, Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band + more!

Laketown Shakedown - June 28-30

Gwen Stefani, Busta Rhymes, Bone Thugs N Harmony + more!

Sunfest Country Music Festival - August 1-4

Keith Urban, Steven Lee Olsen, Lee Brice, Josh Ross, Cole Swindell, the Recklaws, the Washboard Union + more!