Organizers at Canada’s summer music festivals say even as pandemic restrictions lift and live concerts return to some semblance of normalcy, it’s anything but normal behind the scenes.

While concertgoers descend on outdoor events, the people leading the country’s largest music gatherings are facing a long list of anxieties — from travel delays to COVID-19 illnesses — that have made putting together a festival even more tumultuous, costly and unpredictable.

Todd Jenereaux, executive vice president of Republic Live, said it’s impossible to narrow down his concerns ahead of the Boots & Hearts country music festival in Oro-Medonte, Ont. on Aug. 4. He’s confident the weekend will go off without a hitch, but getting to showtime won’t be easy.

“Things are as troubling from an industry standpoint as they were during the (height of the) pandemic, it’s just different,” he said.

“It’s not like a normal year. Our struggles have all been things that we’ve never dealt with before.”

In recent weeks, festival leaders have convened through texts and phone conversations to share the hurdles of running a successful event in 2022. They’ve talked about rising costs tied to inflation, supply issues for stage equipment and a shortage of experienced workers.

Each music festival has its own unique blend of problems to overcome, but common among them is the fear that something will prevent top-billed performers from reaching the stage.

That’s what happened with the Bass Coast electronic music festival in Merritt, B.C. earlier this month when flight delays left about half of their Sunday lineup stranded.

Despite having a contingency plan that asked musicians to arrive a day early, about seven acts wound up stuck at airports before showtime, said festival co-founder Andrea Graham.

“Flights were cancelled altogether

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