Bayimba Festival of the Arts earlier this year through their Facebook page announced that they would be changing venues from the National Theatre to Lunkulu Islands on Lake Victoria.
Fear was that a new venue that asked people to invest in a camping gear, transport, and food or even leave home for all those days was going to kill the vibe.
Making matters worse, the festival had doubled the gate fee from shs10,000 to shs20,000 per day and shs70,000 for the festival pass.
Mentioning shs70,000 was chilling enough, especially for a festival whose ticket went for a paltry shs5000 just two years back.
But the festival at the newly acquired Lunkulu Isaland had to go on over last weekend, for four days from Thursday to Sunday; the organisers defied odds by successfully hosting hundreds of people at an island that has no structures but trees and water.
On six stages revelers enjoyed retro music from artistes Chance Nalubega, Ziggy Dee, Red Banton, Kabuye Semboga to Percussion Discussion Africa and newer school acts whose genres ranged from reggae, fusion, pop, acapella, rap and poetry among others.
With a mixture of artistes casually expected at a Bayimba Festival such as Maurice Kirya, Lily Kadima, Shifa Musisi and Kaz Kasozi to ordinary ones like Ragga Dee, Jose Chameleone, Irene Namatovu and Iryn Namubiru, even in a new place they pulled off a crowd that was a cocktail of revelers.
Some were fishermen, boat operators, while others were the usual faces that have been seen festival trotting.
Thursday could have been tricky since it is a workday but there were a number of people that managed to either reach the islands in the evening or late in the night.
It was Friday when things really picked up with Irene Namubiru, Namatovu and Kadima; but like all show in new places, the edition faced lots of problems, for instance many artistes showed up late which prolonged the days’ programmes.
The Soil from South Africa for example had to be put on stage an hour earlier because the person performing before them was nowhere to be seen and with just their voices, the trio lit up the places with an engaging performance.
But the most relieved performer must have been Maurice Kirya – he closed the main stage performances on Saturday, coming back to Bayimba almost a year after the audience bayed for his blood.
Then the crooner had been programmed but dumped the performance half way due to bad sound, but the eager audience could not hear any of it.
On Saturday, he apologized to the audience before serenading them with his wide catalogue.
The festival that took a format of camping was a strong boost both to the Mukono surroundings and the island that was a year back only occupied by a single caretaker.