The band Pear playing under the brand-new steel stage at Countryfest on Sunday afternoon. (ROBIN BOOKER/BRANDON SUN)
As headliner Reba McEntire took to the stage at Dauphin’s Countryfest Sunday night, one of Canada’s largest country music festivals came to a close, sending most of the nearly 12,000 spectators home with smiles on their faces.
However, what started out as a rather uneventful festival turned fatal for one Dauphin resident.
Shortly after 6 a.m. on Monday, Dauphin RCMP were called to the Countryfest site to investigate a complaint of a man who was unresponsive.
Local emergency crews transported the 42-year-old man to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police did not issue the man’s name and foul play is not suspected. An autopsy has been scheduled.
The death was an unfortunate way to end the 23rd annual edition of the festival, which was widely considered a huge success by security and police officials.
"This year we responded to very few calls from the campground and I think that is a credit to the organizing committee and everyone who attended the festival," Sgt. Nolan Suss of the Dauphin RCMP said.
In total, according to releases issued by the RCMP during Countryfest, police were called to the site at least 18 times — five assaults, 10 disturbances/mischiefs, one theft, one death, and one drug related offence.
Stanley Joseph Cote, 38, from Cote First Nation, Sask., was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking on Sunday.
The trafficking arrest wrapped up what had been a rather quiet weekend for police compared to previous Countryfests and Suss gave festival goers a lot of the credit for so few calls.
"We had a very strong presence and were very visible throughout the weekend, but I think a lot of people just had their fun and knew when it was time to wrap it up," Suss said.
Part of the police presence was setting up several checkstops throughout the weekend to ensure everyone was having fun while being safe behind the wheel.
Police issued 132 speeding tickets, 19 open liquor tickets, six 24-hour suspensions, 51 other traffic-related offences and only one impaired driving charge after a 23-year-old Brandon man was arrested and charged when the vehicle he was driving ran into a parked car.
"I’m not sure if it’s a case of the public understanding that (the RCMP) is going to be around all weekend or whether people are just getting more educated, but to only give out one impaired is a good sign," Suss said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 3, 2012