By Kuhl, Nick on July 17, 2017.
Southern Alberta Newspapers – Fort Macleod
This summer is bringing music back to southern Alberta with the South Country Fair.
The three-day festival that’s taking place July 21-23, is back again with more fun, sun and performances than ever.
Jana MacKenzie, artistic director, says the atmosphere that accompanies this festival is second to none.
“The atmosphere that is created because we are an on-site camping festival is amazing. People set up and make it their home for the weekend,” she says.
“Our location within the river valley and under the wide-open prairie sky is an idyllic setting and many campers have occupied the same spot for years. The community of campers that exists alongside the performances creates a collective feeling that even non-campers come to enjoy.”
The weekend, packed with entertainment, offers a range of music, poetry and performance art that shows enough diversity to get everyone involved.
This year’s performance lineup ranges from traditional folk music to new forms of musical fusion and everything in between. Among some of the performers hitting the stage this summer is Scott Nolan, Tyler Perry, Eliza Doyle, Viper Central and many more.
MacKenzie says this unique lineup and positioning within southern Alberta gives the festival its edge.
“Our audience continues to attend because they know that they’ll be exposed to a variety of exciting sights and sounds. There are lots of folk festivals in the province that provide similar programming and we often share touring acts with these festivals, however, most of them are in central and northern Alberta,” she said.
“We are unique to this region and draw in a large portion of our audience from the neighbouring communities. However, there are also a great deal of folks who travel long distances every year to join us.”
With this festival running mostly due to partnerships and volunteers, the organizers are enthusiastic to say they have more than 400 people joining their team each year to make this event possible. With its growing popularity from local and world travellers alike, the demand for a wonderful weekend is higher now than ever.
“The head count varies understandably, depending on the weather and whatever is happening in people’s lives, but we vary from a low of about 2,100 to a high a few years ago of around 2,900. That is heads total for the weekend, including volunteers and performers,” says organizer Trent Moranz.
Beyond the scheduled performances that bring music to life upon the stage, songwriting competitions and camping activities are always available to keep the guests amused. The campers even make music of their own during the days, offering their own styles and entertainment to their friends and all those who care to join.
“The cherry on top of this festival is the pop-up community, and that so many of our attendees who camp are musicians themselves and there is always a campfire jam happening somewhere on site and is open for anyone who walks by to have a seat or join in,” says MacKenzie. “The inspiration to learn and create music often evolves in the campground, with like-minded folks that want to enjoy and play music together.”
The artists and performers who grace the stage usually come from all across the country, however, there are a few international acts that stop by to enjoy the fun.
The festival that has been running since 1987 originally started as a meeting ground for several local folk groups that got together each year in order to get to know one another. However, as time moved on the event morphed into a three-day experience, that hopes to expand its participants’ cultural horizons and bring people from all walks of life together under the internationally-diverse umbrella that is performance.
“I’ve worked and volunteered with numerous organizations and am continuously in awe of the fair’s unique organizational structure. We all want to be at the fair all year and can’t imagine our summer without it. It’s what fills my cup and keeps me excited to be a member of such an amazing group of humans,” says MacKenzie of her time with the organization each year.
Weekend passes and camping passes are available for this year’s festival and can be found along with other information and the current lineup on their website at: http://southcountryfair.com.
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