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Organizers thrilled with 29th year

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The 29th edition of Dauphin’s Countryfest is in the books and president Ann Ransom is thrilled.
In an interview earlier this weekend, she said, the Road Hammers had commented Countryfest is unique, because it is organized with the patrons in mind.
“And I thought, that’s such a fitting description of what we do this for,” Ransom said.
“It’s bringing all these people in, to come to Dauphin and come see what we can do. Yes, it’s about showcasing music and all these great experiences, but it’s really about having one terrific weekend.”
She admits that energy is infectious and anyone involved can not help being Manitoba-proud, plus Dauphin-proud, as staff and volunteers come together to ensure everyone enjoys the weekend.
Taking on the position of president, after the sudden death of Eric Irwin, Ransom said, has been a team effort.
It is an additional role for her, as she has been the director of on-site liquor services for the past several years and Ransom credits staff, the board and long-time volunteers for helping her make the transition.
“Dauphin is so fortunate to have some really stellar skill sets in our community and just, community-minded people that really understand that it’s for the greater good of why we’re doing things,” she said.
They all worked together for a common vision, Ransom said, adding it was a tough year for those involved.
“It's a unique year for us, without Eric here. And there’s been a few tears shed and a few laughs had and lots of memories shared and a few ‘Eric-isms’ going around,” she said.
“And at the end of the day, I think we can proudly hold our heads high and say, ‘you know, I think Eric would tell us that we did a good job.’ I think he’d be proud of us.”
They had a good teacher, Ransom said, noting the board learned a lot working alongside Irwin, with many lessons that will carry on for a long while.
It had been difficult to find a rhythm as a board, she said, but all members took on the challenge to put on a “first class” event, as Irwin would often say.
In addition to expressing great appreciation to its corporate sponsors, Ransom gave thanks to service providers in the community for helping make Dauphin's Countryfest happen every year, from site preparation and construction, to support services for patrons and performers.
She offered kudos to the site crew for the work they have done to prepare for thousands of visitors each day, by anticipating their needs and preparing for whatever kind of weather is thrown at them.
Weather wise, Dauphin’s Countryfest had been lucky this year, as it did not receive the same amount of rain as the city of Dauphin did, Ransom said, and the deluge on Friday did not seem to deter the crowd.
“It was a packed house, and it just goes to show that it doesn’t really matter. It’s about the event, it’s about coming to the music. These are hardcore fans, having a good time and nobody’s afraid to get a little wet,” she added.
The Thursday night kick off party at the top of the hill was well received, Ransom said, with one of the best attendance numbers for a Thursday night of the festival.
It was a great way to get into festival spirit, she noted, and seemed to carry on throughout the weekend.
“You kind of ignite that fun,” Ransom said.
An economic analysis showed the majority of patrons to Countryfest are from Winnipeg and the surrounding area, she noted, which is good for the community of Dauphin and the festival.
Looking to 2019, Ransom said, the board decided to put tickets for the 30th anniversary on sale immediately.
“To tap into that energy and showcasing what we’ve got, getting people talking on social media about this experience,” she said.
Referring to its members as the backbone of the festival, Ransom assured the membership of Dauphin's Countryfest their two weekend tickets and campsite will be set aside for them to decide whether they will invest in the 2019 celebration.
“We’ve got their back. They’ve had our back, so now we’ve got theirs,” she added.
At the 25th anniversary, Ransom said, the board enjoyed promoting the festival throughout the year by making announcements each month.
“We got some great things planned for the 30th and are having lots of fun with it,” she said, noting there are more details to come in the near future.
Tickets sales exceeded all expectations this year, Ransom said, and camping was sold out. Dauphin’s Countryfest hosted over 12,000 music fans each day, with the support of up to 2,000 volunteers.
In 2018, Ransom said, Irwin’s passion to host a first class event was still around the board table. His excitement and dedication for Dauphin’s Countryfest touched all board members, she noted, and directors rose to the challenge to ensure it will continue.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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