The 25th anniversary of Dauphin’s Countryfest may go down as the year no one forgets… not only because of the relentless rainy weather, but also because of the phenomenal musical lineup. As well, for some special patrons, they’ll remember it as a milestone notch on their belt.
THEY’VE BEEN HERE EVERY YEAR!
On the final evening, 26attendees were recognized on stage as having attended every single Countryfest since the first one in 1990. Attendees like Allan Nimmo, a commercial pilot fromWinnipeg, who comes back year after year because it’s the best music festival he’s ever been at: “I’ve been to a lot of festivals, including big ones like Craven and Big Valley Jamboree, but Dauphin’s Countryfest is the best by far.”
This year was also memorable for Nimmo because he won the contest for best campsite, which sported a ‘Playboy Mansion’ theme. “I was Hugh Hefner, and we had ‘celebrities’ stop by like Jack Nicholson, Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. It was a lot of fun.”
Harvey and Laurie Armstrong, who live in Dauphin, have attended all 25 Countryfests as fans and volunteers. For the last 15 years, they’ve also supported the festival as a sponsor. “We keep coming back for the entertainment, and for reuniting with other ‘countryfesters’. One of my favourite things is the socializing. One year I had a chance meeting at a mini tailgate party that evolved into an ongoing friendship,” said Harvey.
Dauphin’s Diane McDonald has a lifetime membership for Countryfest, which allows her to purchase tickets early, and reserve the same upper campsite each year. “It’s special to me that Countryfest was established by local business people, and makes me proud each year that Dauphin hosts this event. Everyone becomes one big happy country music family.”
Her advice for someone new to Countryfest would have been well heeded in this 25th year: “Bring rain gear! Rain or shine, you will always have a good time.”
GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY – CHEVY SILVERADO
As a special initiative to mark its 25th anniversary, Dauphin’s Countryfest has been giving away prizes to ticketholders on the 25th of each month since October. The grand prize – a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado – was presented to one ticketholder on Sunday night.
Brady Adriaansen from Wellwood, Manitoba, was the lucky winner. He was playing cards at his campsite when his name was drawn and announced to the crowd at the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Main Stage.
“All of a sudden my phone just exploded, with my friends contacting me to tell me I won. It’s pretty unreal actually,” said Adriaansen. “I’m baffled. And excited. I didn’t expect this at all.”
This is Adriaansen’s fourth year coming to Dauphin’s Countryfest. And what is he going to do with the 2008 Ford Ranger her currently drives? “I have no idea, maybe make it a hunting truck.”
FINAL NIGHT OF MUSIC
Kicking off the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Main Stage on the final night of Countryfest was The Mavericks. Back together after an eight-year hiatus, their post-modern style of country that emerged from Miami in 1989 continues to stand the test of time.
Ontario-born and Nashville-based Deric Ruttan shared his sentiment about Countryfest on social media: “Countryfest was the first festival in Canada to give me a chance and book me back when no one knew who I was. Tonight, many shows later, we're playing the main stage. Thanks Countryfest. And thanks FANS who've hung out all weekend in the RAIN without letting it dampen your spirits. You guys are incredible.”
Wrapping up the festival was the most awarded country group of the past decade. Since their inception in 1999, Rascal Flatts has sold over 22.5 million albums and 28 million digital downloads. They rocked the house with an on-stage energy that’s second to none, revving up one of the best country music audiences in the world – the 14,000 diehard music fans at Dauphin’s Countryfest.