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Countryfest in good shape: Waloschuk


Anyone worried about how Dauphin’s Countryfest is weathering the COVID-19 pandemic after having to cancel the 2020 festival can rest easy.
“We are in really good shape,” Countryfest general manager Rob Waloschuk said following the not-for-profit organization’s annual general meeting, Feb. 18.
“Over the past year we have worked diligently with our financial institution and corporate sponsors.”
Waloschuk added the organization has been able to access several federal and provincial support programs such as the emergency wage subsidy, rent subsidy and provincial bridge grants.
The programs served Countryfest well in dampening the loss of not only last year’s festival but also the uncertainty surrounding this year.
“You know it’s surprising, but we came through it pretty well,” he said, adding the festival’s many supporters who rolled over their tickets until this year deserve a lot of the credit for Countryfest’s strong position.
“The support of our ticket holders, and especially our Countryfest members who have stuck with us through this has been phenomenal,” Waloschuk said.
“We could not have done it without this support.”
And when it comes to this year, there is still the question of whether the festival will be held.
“The answer is we just don’t know,” Waloschuk said, adding Countryfest has joined forces with several other festivals to try and get answers from government about what might be possible this summer.
“Because we are all in the same boat,” he said.
“Getting answers has been tough and it is getting tougher.
“Like every other event, we are hoping to receive more detailed direction from government officials. We look forward to sharing that information with our festival goers when we are able.”
Given the situation, Waloschuk expects a full-fledged edition of Countryfest will not be possible this summer. But with the promise of vaccines on the horizon, he remains hopeful there will be some sort of event, or events.
“We will hold something with whatever crowd we are allowed,” he said, adding the Countryfest team has been busy planning and is eager to share some exciting ideas.
Many of those plans involve utilizing the Selo Ukraina amphitheatre associated so closely with Countryfest.
“The site is there and the Selo board is ready to work with us,” Waloschuk said,
“Everybody has pulled together so well.”
The meeting also saw the addition of two new directors to the Countryfest board. Colette Hykawy and Ron Hedley will take a seat at the board table with Carissa Caruk-Ganczar, Clayton Carefoot, Stephen Chychota, Ron Love, Chad McCrady, Duane McMaster, Lisa Saunders, Wayne Steiner, Jamie Van Beukenhout and Dean Yerama.
“We have a good group of people,” Waloschuk said.
“Everybody works well together.”
Dauphin’s Countryfest is Canada’s longest running country music festival, and has been holding a music festival annually on the July long weekend since 1990, attracting the biggest names in country music.