Souris is holding two concerts in May and June as part of a plan to revive the southwestern Manitoba town’s economy after the extensive damage it suffered in the 2011 flood.
Juno winner Doc Walker will perform at the Souris and Glenwood Memorial Complex on May 9 and Juno nominated Aaron Pritchett will be the musical act on June 27 for what has been dubbed Swinging Bridge Weekend in Souris.
Souris was known for its 180-metre suspension pedestrian bridge, a town symbol for more than a century, which was washed away when the Souris River flooded three years ago. It was later rebuilt in 2013.
"We’re not dead!" said Souris economic development officer Vern May. "There are a lot of people whose lasting impression of Souris were the horrifying images of the 2011 flood, and they don’t know that we’ve recovered. Not only that, but the future is looking bright."
With the bridge down and the low-lying Victoria Park compromised by the raging river, the community has seen two quiet summers. For a town accustomed to welcoming thousands of visitors each year, the change was significant.
This year, with a grand reopening of the bridge, May hopes to entice visitors in a big way with the two concerts.
"What better way to get people curious and excited about your community than hosting a world-class event that brings people home, or encourages them to come and see us for the first time?" he said.
"We have a great community arena and complex with great hosting capabilities. In addition, we really want everyone to see how well we’ve recovered from the flood and how engaged our community is with our future direction."
In addition to tourism, the community is entertaining proposals for a new hotel development, work is also underway for the construction of a new 55-plus living facility, and a crematorium project has just passed third reading at council.
These projects and the opening of a new wood-fired pizza deli are just the tip of the iceberg.
"When you aren’t situated along a major highway, you need to give people a reason to turn off the main road," May said. "We are working with our museums to make their displays more interactive for all ages and improving the opportunities for vacation packaging — combining accommodations with meals and attraction tickets. It’s all part of fully showcasing that we’re not just another map dot on the Prairies."
With family-friendly pricing, the community of 1,800 has been encouraged to see a strong interest in both shows and has already been flooded with calls from across the province.
Tickets for the two concerts go on sale next Tuesday and are available online at ticketweb.ca.