Festival producer Chris Miller at Salmonfest 2021 in Ninilchik. (Photo Courtesy David Stearns)

Festival producer Chris Miller at Salmonfest 2021 in Ninilchik. (Photo Courtesy David Stearns)

EDM festival debuts in Ninilchik this weekend

The Sacred Acre music festival will run Sept. 9-11 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds

The ARCHES Amphitheater and Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik will be the setting for the Kenai Peninsula’s first electronic dance music festival this weekend.

The Sacred Acre music festival will run for three days, Sept. 9-11, and feature more than 20 acts, including both local and national talent. The roster ranges from headliners like French producer CloZee to Homer local DJ Fractal Theory, and plenty more.

David Stearns, assistant director of Salmonfest who is handling communications for Sacred Acre, said attendees need to “get ready for an absolutely amazing light and audio experience.”

State-of-the-art sound equipment and visual effects professionals are being brought to the state to ensure the event stands up to the quality of national EDM festivals, Stearns said.

“I think that people are gonna love it,” Stearns said.

The festival came from the passion of producer Chris Miller, Stearns said.

Miller has lived in Homer for years, working as the executive chef at Land’s End Resort before opening a new restaurant earlier this year — The Green Can.

Miller is really into EDM, and has friends in and around the scene, according to Stearns. He has been working to realize an EDM festival in the state for a while.

“He just kind of started the conversations over the last three or four years, and finally the time was right,” Stearns said. “It’s kind of crazy to launch a new restaurant and a new music festival in the same year, but he’s doing it.”

Logistically, Stearns said using the space in Ninilchik just made sense. The new ARCHES Amphitheater and Campground, in conjunction with the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds, is “a really nice and well put together site.”

He said Salmonfest is actively working to bring more events to the ARCHES space, including several new festivals like Sacred Acre.

To exhibit the music, a VOID sound system is being brought up to the state for the first time. Only two of the machines exist.

In a press release, Miller said, “The caliber of production, specifically the sound and the visuals, will be unlike anything that has ever happened on the Kenai Peninsula and possibly the state. There will be lasers everywhere, and the best sound around.”

Stearns said they needed to bring the machine up to meet the needs of the artists being featured.

“The sound and the bass is such a critical part of that genre that the technical writers were stipulating that level of audio,” he said.

The artists wanted the tech, so Sacred Acre took the opportunity, both to avoid trying to piece together a system on their own, and also to “come out with a splash and really give the guests something they’ve never seen before.”

Supplementing the audio is a whole lot of lasers, with a team from Colorado being brought up to design visual effects.

“It’s gonna be an insane spectacle,” Stearns said. “That’s the word we’ve been throwing around.”

Stearns said the caliber of talent is high for a first-year festival. Sacred Acre was able to leverage both Miller’s connections to the scene and the relationship with Salmonfest to get “artists that would otherwise never sign up for a first-year festival.” Stearns said the more popular acts don’t need to take risks on anything but sure things, with guaranteed crowds and fewer chances of technical issues.

Stearns said headliner CloZee was one of the first and biggest names signed to the event.

“She’s an absolute visionary,” he said. “Certainly on the forefront of the scene in many respects.”

Miller was able to connect through mutual friends, and once CloZee was signed, Stearns said, “we got our lynchpin, let’s start adding.”

Sacred Acre will also feature a food court with several options, as well as a collection of food trucks and art vendors. The beer gardens will also feature cocktails and spirits.

Sacred Acre, like Salmonfest, is dedicated to raising awareness about an issue. For this event, it’s trawling. On the Sacred Acre website, the Sacred Acre mission is stated as the regulation or banning of trawling — starting with bottom trawling. This is described as a significant and urgent problem because of bycatch and damage to ecosystems on the seafloor and deep sea.

Miller “wanted to keep that tradition going, for music events at that site to have a connection to a cause,” Stearns said.

Stearns said this issue was targeted because of Miller’s food industry background. Miller buys fish for his restaurant, and Stearns says “that was just something that he’s really passionate about, and he really believes should not be happening in Alaska or anywhere, frankly.”

According to a press release from Sacred Acre, a percentage of event proceeds will be donated to charities that focus on the regulation of trawling.

Tickets and more information for Sacred Acre can be found at sacredacreak.com.

The event will be in full swing this weekend rain or shine. A weather section on the website recommends that attendees wear appropriate attire for rain, and Stearns said though the forecast looks promising, they’re expecting some “typical Alaska summer.”

On the bright side, Stearns said if it does rain, it only enhances the show.

“The lasers look incredible through the rain,” he said.

Sacred Acre is already planned to return next year, with Stearns teasing that Miller has already begun talks with artists. “Hopefully this will turn into an annual tradition for a lot of people in Alaska.”

Update: Additional details were added to the image captions on this story

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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