Getting SappyForever | The Coast Halifax

Getting SappyForever

Team Sappy takes its 252-page, full-colour retrospective on the road.

Meet the product of the little fundraiser that could---and did.

SappyForever is a 252-page, full-colour retrospective bursting with content. This hardcover archive features photos, essays and memories from eight years of SappyFest, the annual independent music festival in Sackville, New Brunswick. The coffee table tome preserves a visual and textual history of a party that became a destination for hundreds of local music lovers.

Lucas Hicks is the creative director of SappyFest. Hicks has been involved with the festival since its inception and nowadays he's responsible for everything from communications to programming. When asked to recall the early days of the festival he relates the story without missing a beat.

Rewind to 2006. Festival co-founders Paul Henderson and Jon Claytor of Sappy Records have a nagging desire to organize an event that would attract all their friends to a single location. Hicks explains: "The idea was a summer party almost like a wedding." Back then the Sappy folks didn't have a convenient excuse like an impending marriage to bring everyone together, so they invented one. The inaugural SappyFest was a success with 250 attendees who were mostly friends and friends of friends. The producers knew they were onto something special with the reunion vibe. "It's nice to feel like a family," Hicks says, "and like something is being put on for you."

Fast-forward to SappyFest 2013. More than 900 music fans attended last year's festival, the largest to date in terms of turnout. Unfortunately, high attendance didn't save the festival from financial foundering. "It came directly after the festival when we realized we fell short of our mark," says Hicks. The registered non-profit organization faced a daunting $15,000 debt.

On the brink of financial collapse the festival's producers had a creative idea: a coffee-table-book-slash-festival-life-preserver. Team Sappy hinged the future of its organization on a hope and a plan. To raise enough money for the cause, the team launched a campaign with Indiegogo. Through the magic of presale, SappyForever became more than a document of the festival's past---the hardback grew to 60 pages and morphed into a yearbook-esque testament to its own production. A $100 donation bought each supporter a book and secured a space in the "Presented by" section for their photo. In only 30 days the project raised over $28,000---more than enough cash to settle the organization's outstanding debt and fully fund the production and publication of SappyForever.

Today, 500 copies of SappyForever are hot off the presses. Team Sappy is excited to hit the highway with books and bands in tow, looking forward to catching up with existing festival fans and making new ones. They'll be busy delivering 250 presale books into the keen hands of donors across eastern and central Canada, vending the remaining copies and introducing local music acts to a national audience.

"The tour gives us the opportunity to promote the book and festival all at once," says Hicks.

Prior to the fundraiser the future of SappyFest was ambiguous at best. Now, the future of the Bridge Street party is back on track. "One of the things was to see if we could move forward with the festival and we figured we could," says Hicks. SappyFest will be downsizing to a slightly smaller festival in August 2014 and anticipates 500 to 700 attendees.

"This year will be smaller," says Hicks. "It will be about getting back to our roots, coming together and enjoying ourselves in this community." --Jade Nauss