Saturday, Sept. 22 is the day for Youth Fest, a free, activity-filled festival for teens happening at Guildford rec centre, both inside and outside in the sunshine of fall's first hours (or so say the meteorologists). Sumo wrestling, extreme surfing, rock climbing, an airbrush tattoo parlour, a learn-to-DJ booth, BMX demos - it's all there at the City of Surrey's annual event, starting at 4 p.m. and closing with the dance party's final note at midnight.
Last year, close to 1,500 teens turned up to have some fun at Youth Fest, thanks in part to a free shuttle that offers rides to and from the party, connecting all rec centres in Surrey.
With that many bodies in the house, it's no wonder Youth Fest has become a red-letter day for many young Surrey bands.
This time around, nine bands will do 25-minute sets on a stage rigged with pro lighting and sound - quite a thrill for musicians who may not have yet experienced all that.
"They're usually pretty excited to play this event," said Arielle Patterson, a lead organizer of Youth Fest for six years. "It's an opportunity for bands to showcase their talents and get their names out there, getting them experience on a stage like that."
For the bands, it's not a paid gig - but money isn't an issue here; it's more about the value of a decent place to play for a crowd.
Mattie Kalicharan is the mother of two daughters in the band Ministry of Misfits, first up to rock the festival's Amp'd Stage at 4 p.m. with covers of songs by Heart, Coldplay, Pat Benatar and, just maybe, Led Zeppelin. Singer Jenny is 13, three years younger than her bass-playing sister, Kristen, and both of plenty of experience playing live at places around town.
"Youth Fest is great," Mattie raved, "because it's sometimes difficult for youth bands to find places to play, especially the louder rock bands like ours - even though we can turn it down at a given venue.
"It's exciting for them," she added, "because they can see what else is out there, a measuring stick for them against other local bands." Ministry of Misfits has a YouTube channel that showcases their impressive talents, with original songs in the works.
Shadows, an alt-indie band also on stage at Youth Fest (8 p.m. set), placed second in the B.C.'s Best Teen Band contest last April. Until they were invited to play the festival last year, lead guitarist Dianne Ocampo hadn't heard of the event.
"A lot of people come out to it, so it's pretty good that way," Ocampo said. "It's a really good place to play and see other bands. The people who run it are really nice, too, which is great."
Other bands playing the 2012 edition of Youth Fest include Aim for Sunday (4: 35 p.m. set), J-ClaWsin (5: 05 p.m.), After Our Juliet (5: 40 p.m.), Ransom for Captives (6: 15 p.m.), Within Rust (6: 50 p.m.), The Cut Losses (7: 25 p.m.) and Northern Rain (8: 35 p.m.). Check it out.