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Peace Loving Music


What is "Special Woodstock"?

A day filled with music and friends from all walks of life 

For the past 24 years, with the help of the Lions clubs of Vancouver Island and other caring community sponsors and volunteers, Special Woodstock has been providing, free of charge to everyone, a day of peace, love, and music.

Featuring musicians with disabilities and popular local bands and musical groups on three stages throughout the property. Promoting a new understanding of the abilities of those with special needs through music. The universal language! Reminiscent and fully supported by the original, iconic Woodstock music festival and its founders in New York. 

A Special Woodstock Story: Daryn

Let me tell you about Daryn.

Daryn is 28 years old. He is a tall handsome young man with big brown eyes and of slender build. Daryn was born with brain damage. He couldn't talk until he was 10 years old and even then had a very limited vocabulary. He went to school but didn't communicate very well so no one was quite sure how much he was taking in.

He couldn't look you in the eye because of his shyness but responded in a way that allowed you to know that he understood what you were saying.

Daryn found his way to us when he was 10 years old. His mother Corrine brought him and his siblings, 5 and 6 yrs. olds, to our first Special Woodstock. I asked Corrine if she would like Daryn to take part on stage with the entertainment. 

She had her doubts that he would be able to say anything at all, so I suggested that his siblings join him. She replied that the only song that they knew was "Oh Canada". So that is what they did. Daryn looked at the ground the whole time and didn't really join in until about his 5th year when he started relaxing on stage and began joining his sister on her mike.

Each year after that he began to sing louder, smile at the audience and this year Daryn showed up with a new guitar and wanted to do more than "Oh Canada". Daryn had been practicing all year, his Special Woodstock hat next to the door waiting with anticipation for his big moment on stage. Of course, we made sure that he could perform a couple more songs

His mother Corrine came to me over the past few years at Special Woodstock in tears of joy at seeing how much more confident he has become. She just couldn’t believe it was the same son. This year Corrine came up to me and said, "Special Woodstock helped Daryn to mature and become a man."

Special Woodstock gave Daryn a place to be heard. He is loved by a huge island community because they know him, have watched him grow, and appreciate him for his courage. Daryn feels that love and leaves our festival with confidence and a voice which he uses to stand tall and look you in the eye when he speaks.

This is just one of many of the thousands of stories which I could share with you.

The grandmother who comes to me in tears telling me how much it meant to her to see her grandchild playing with the children without disabilities. How easily he was accepted as one of their immediate friends.

The teen who has grown up with the festival because her mom volunteered every year, who stood up in her grade 8 class and corrected a teacher who was incorrectly labeling a child in her class with disabilities.

David, hooking rugs, making cards and beading necklaces all year to sell at his table at Special Woodstock. Instead of sitting in front of the tv all day.

Special Olympics gives athletes a platform, Special Woodstock gives people with musical and artistic talents the same, a platform to show their artistic talents and meet other people on Vancouver Island with and without disabilities. We all have something to teach and to learn from each other. Through the joy of music, we have found a common language in which to do that.

Special Woodstock is for everyone.

Snapshot of a Soul Place

A booked edited and designed on Protection Island has won a third award in the USA. Kari Burk’s illustrated memoir, Snapshot of a Soul Place in the Land of Special Needs, won a 2016 Academics’ Choice Award in addition to National Parenting Product (NAPPA) and Family Choice Awards. 

It’s available from Kool and Child, Community Services Nanaimo, Volume One, Salamander Books, Bolin Books, Ten Old Books, Talisman Books, Banyen Books and by mail order from .

Written and illustrated in Castlegar, the book was edited, curated and published by Valerie Hennell and designed by Ronan Lannuzel on Protection Island.

Academics’ Choice says: “Kari Burk's creatively presented autobiography is sincere and engaging. As empowering as it is poignant, it offers many practical suggestions for parents, educators and caregivers. We highly recommend this book.” It was also “unequivocally recommended” by Library Journal in New York.

Snapshot of a Soul Place in the land of special needs is a mother and daughter’s journey with Down syndrome. Kari Burk combines poetry, prose, paintings and photos to present the story of 25-year-old Mielle, granddaughter of editor Valerie Hennell and musician Rick Scott, who is Goodwill Ambassador for the Down Syndrome Research Foundation. Valley and Rick live on Protection Island.

ACADEMICS’ CHOICE is the only international awards program designed to bring increased recognition to publishers, manufacturers, independent authors and developers that aim to stimulate cognitive development.

A volunteer panel of product-appropriate judges, including parents, educators, scientists, artists, doctors, nurses, librarians, students and children, evaluate submissions based on educational benefits such as higher-order thinking skills, character building, creative play, durability and originality.

Only the genuine “mind-builders” are recognized with the coveted Academics’ Choice Award™

In 1995, at age five, Mielle starred with her grandfather in a video of the song “Angels Do” which she inspired. The video played 20 times a month for ten years on Treehouse TV and became an anthem for the special needs community.

Kari Burk says: “Perhaps the greatest obstacle faced by a person with special needs is being misunderstood and in turn, isolated, from life’s processes and events. This book is my way of bridging that gap, celebrating the people, places and images that have shaped our lives and inspired my art.”

The story of how the book was written is featured in BC BookLook

More info on the book is below and at

The National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA) is the most comprehensive and selective awards program in the family and children's products market. NAPPA's recognition means that a product has been carefully evaluated and deemed “top of its class" by expert judges, parent and child testers, and product reviewers.

The Family Choice Awards recognize the best in children's and parenting products and is one of the most coveted, family friendly consumer award programs in North America. 


Picture Gallery

2018 Picture Gallery

August 19, 2018 was an incredible day at Providence Farm!

Thanks to Kody and Sandra for these pictures of their day at Special Woodstock 2018


Videos and pictures of the past 19 years

Rick Scott with his beautiful granddaughter, Mielle xoxox


Mission/Vision Statement

Sharing the community stage with abled and disabled performers, promoting understanding and respect for each other through the common language of music.


Here are the people who are responsible for the success of Special Woodstock in Victoria, British Columbia:

Cory Elvedahl

- Lady Finger Bakery, Cobble Hill. Cory is the co-ordinator for Addies Tea Garden. She home bakes muffins, decadent squares, cookies, and cupcakes to sell with your cup of tea or coffee in the Rose Garden area at Special Woodstock

Orly Eby

- Orly has been a founding member of Special Woodstock for 20 years. The wind beneath our wings. He is the man who hangs the signs every year along the highway and roads. He looks after the grounds, the parking, sets up the tents, orders the washrooms, tears down after the event is done, builds the misting tent and stores everything

away for us. 

Jeannette Eby

- Has been with the festival volunteering countless hours for many years. She is the vendor coordinator, the instrument creator for the workshop.  

Brian Marchtaler

- Treasurer for Special Woodstock, handyman, parking, gate greeter, Tye dye and music expert. Sets up tents and tears down, and recruits his family every year

Dawn Smiley

- Volunteer coordinator, founding member, advisor, food service,part-time secretary

Shelley Vaags

- Founder, president. MC,entertainment co-ordinator, website updater

Larry Miller

- Bus and Transportation-coordinator. A former caregiver and a musician. Larry has also been with us for many many years

Tammy Olson

- Sponsor Liason. Tammy Olson works and volunteers with the Cadets and St. Johns Ambulance Services. She has been on the executive for many many years and started out as a caregiver, then was one of our main sponsors, then joined us on the committee and helps us organize this event. A problem solver.

She does a great interview!



I am so impressed every year with the top level entertainment with well known bands that get people singing, clapping, and dancing!! It is also great to be so inclusive and hear new musicians and those with challenges, so bravely performing for everyone!! It is wonderfully heart-warming to see everyone enjoying themselves so much.

I couldn't stop smiling all day! The colourful outfits, the community spirit and all the varied activities, make this a truly memorable experience!! Thank you for 20 years of making a positive difference in so many lives!

- Susana Michaelis 

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