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Countryfest hoists Canadian colours in 2021 planning

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Dauphin’s Countryfest is taking a patriotic approach to the festival’s return in 2021.
On Canada Day, festival organizers made an initial announcement of a special lineup for next year featuring exclusively Canadian artists.
“I think Canada has some of the best, if not the best country music talent in the world,” Countryfest general manager Rob Waloschuk said, adding the festival board decided with all the closures and cancellations happening because of the COVID-19 pandemic to support homegrown talent.
“Everybody is kind of in that mode. Canada is probably doing much better, in fact it is doing way better than a lot of places around the world. And even the Canadian artists, they are all bucking up and doing their thing, even though there is no shows for them either. So we thought let’s give back to them. So that was the biggest thing, really.”
Secondary in the decision was the knowledge that some form of travel restriction might still be in place come festival time and getting artists across an international border could prove difficult.
“It is a year away, so a lot can happen. It is a much safer venture, I guess you could say, Waloschuk said.
But the biggest thing was to support the Canadian artists and support Canada.
Headline acts confirmed to this point include Johnny Reid, Dallas Smith, Dean Brody, Terri Clark, Paul Brandt, Alan Doyle, Michelle Wright, the Reklaws, Petric, Don Amero and Doc Walker.
“In talking with all of the industry people, most of the acts that we have are in so heavy a rotation on radio, that they stand up to the best. So I am really looking forward to it. I know it is going to be the biggest country event ever held in Canada. And it is starting to gather some real national interest and people are really looking to us,” Waloschuk said.
“I have had conversations with other promoters who think it is just brilliant and I do know some others in the country, big events, who are going to be looking at doing the same thing.”
There has also been several “smaller” acts signed and there is more to come, Waloschuk said.
“There is probably about 10 or 11 spots left to fill yet,” he said.
“There will be a couple of other surprises, that is for sure.”
Added to the mix this year is more classic rock with acts such as Trooper, The Headpins, Toronto and Toque committed to the July 1 to 4, 2021 event,
“We always do some in the upper stages and this year we ramped it up with great Canadian classic rock. Trooper, it doesn’t get any better than the party band of the country,” Waloschuk said.
“I think it is going to be a well rounded event.”
While the festival is still a year away, making the initial lineup announcement on Canada Day seemed to make sense as it fit in with the whole Canadian theme, Waloschuk added.
“Canada, and Manitoba especially, seems to be embracing the whole Canada Day thing this year, staycations and all of those types of things,” he said.
“And with the gates supposed to be open, we thought what the heck, it’s Canada Day, let’s release a big Canadian message.”
Tickets go on sale in the fall and Waloschuk expects the event to sellout quickly.
“It depends what that sellout is. We may be limited, we don’t know what is going to happen,” he said.
“Come this fall we will know what that capacity is supposed to be.”
Whatever that capacity is, Countryfest is well on its way as many fans who bought tickets for this year’s cancelled festival chose to roll them over to next year.
“It just shows a lot of trust that people have in the event. And to be fair some of them are very loyal, loyal members and people who just want to support the cause,” Waloschuk said.
“There is a lot of groups around Dauphin that are not going to benefit this year and for some of them that is going to be devastating for them. This is their one time of year where they actually make all of their funds for the entire year. So it really helps and it is really humbling to see how many people actually left their tickets in. And we are very grateful for that.”
Countryfest 2021 lineup so far
• Thursday - Lee Aaron, The Headpins, Toronto, Petric, Emerson Drive, Aaron Pritchett and Charlie Major.
• Friday - Kate’s Outlaw, Jade Turner, Desiree Dorion, Don Amero, Toque, Kristen Carter, Jade Eagleson, Jess Moskaluke, Washboard Union, Chad Brownlee, Terri Clark and Paul Brandt.
• Saturday - Ryan Keown Band, the Road Hammers, Trooper, Madeline Merlo, Alan Doyle, the Reklaws, James Barker Band, Dean Brody and Dallas Smith.
• Sunday - Melissa Livingstone, Clayton Bellamy and the Congregation, Doc Walker, Jason McCoy, Michelle Wright, George Canyon, Corb Lund, Hunter Brothers and Johnny Reid.