For an extended moment, Scott Emslie had a professional career in volleyball.
After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Alberta, where he became one of just a handful of people to be named both an Athletic All-Canadian and an Academic All-Canadian, the founder of Wet Ape Productions headed overseas to play his sport in Europe
“I was travelling around, basically chasing summer, playing on these different beach circuits. That was the start of this transition into starting to produce my own events,” Emslie said.
His first foray into event production was Volleyfest, which was Emslie’s response to the lack of beach volleyball festivals being hosted in Canada at the time. After pulling off the inaugural event in 2007 with some DJs and some sponsors, Emslie wanted to do more.
“I wanted to have this multi-sport festival. That was the birth of Center of Gravity.”
Nine years running, Kelowna’s Center of Gravity now attracts sponsors like Monster Energy (Nasdaq:MNST) and has hosted some of the biggest DJs and artists in the world, including Calvin Harris, Skrillex and Ice Cube.
The festival has grown organically to welcome crowds of over 24,000 annually, Emslie said.
Beyond Center of Gravity, Emslie’s company has several other events under the Wet Ape portfolio. Ape, he said, stands for athletes, productions and events, while the “wet” part was meant to make it more fun and creative.
“It was a passion project originally; I wasn’t really expecting it to become a career.”
Among his other events are Harvest Haus, a Vancouver ode to Oktoberfest that draws around 10,000 people per year, and Unbuckled, an experiential country event in Stanley Park that debuted last year and returned in September.
“It’s really powerful when everybody’s on the same page and everybody’s completely united and you feel like you’re part of a moment,” Emslie said. “That was for me the driving force behind continuing with event management and building these festivals:. these moments that we were creating at these events.”
Join us to celebrate the 2016 Forty under under 40 Awards January 25, 2017 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/events/40under40