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This article was published 30/6/2018 (1128 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
DAUPHIN — The atmosphere remained enthusiastic despite the pouring rain at Dauphin’s Countryfest on Friday.
Country music fans were in high spirits as the 29th edition of the festival got into full swing with a near-capacity crowd on hand.
Wooden bleachers from the main stage looked down onto a sea of trailers, large enough to create it’s own temporary town for five days.
"It’s great, it’s awesome, it’s joyful, everybody’s having a great time and listening to great music," said Countryfest general manager Rob Waloschuk.
As of Friday afternoon, he said they were close to their capacity of 12,000 people.
"By (Saturday) we could very likely be sold out," he said.
The people are what keep Candie Ewanyshyn coming back to Countryfest.
"There is 14 of us here in this site altogether, and we met out in line 20 years ago," Ewanyshyn said. "When memberships started being sold, we all bought together, and this is where we come and meet every year."
Ewanyshyn is of the many people who are part of the temporary Countryfest trailer town, a member until Monday when she’ll pack up and go back home to Gilbert Plains.
But for the weekend, this music town is her dwelling place.
Ewanyshyn was parked a little bit back, hotdog and hamburger buns on the table next to her ready for dinner, while waiting for the artists she was most looking forward to — Florida Georgia Line on Friday night and Luke Combs on Saturday.
Up away from the trailer town by the two other stages is a cross between a food lover’s paradise and a country music fan’s dream. There’s a grilled cheese truck, mini-doughnuts, gyros and sesame chicken. There’s also a beach where fans can play volleyball while musicians perform in the background.
"We love the beach, we’ve been here for like two hours," Tessa Klein said.
The people are another reason why Klein enjoys Countryfest, she said as she sat on the beach, her toes in the sand.
"I like that everybody is just having a really good time, everybody I see here is smiling and just feels really free," Klein said.
It was a welcome break from reality in a very relaxed environment.
Lyle Smith was sitting outside his trailer, feet up, watching TV, with a carpet draped across the grass. A makeshift living room. Smith loves many things about Countryfest — which is why he has come back every year for the past 27.
"Camping out, sitting under the canopy, drinking beer, making something to eat, going up to the upper stage, going to the main stage, wandering around meeting people you haven’t seen for a long time," Smith said.
Besides the people, part of what makes the Countryfest unique is the venue itself.
"l challenge any other festival in this country to have a facility such as ours," Waloschuk said. "With the natural amphitheatre, the stage settings and all that kind of stuff, everything from paved roads, to the nice grass and the campgrounds."
For what’s coming up at the festival, Waloschuk said there will be special announcement in Saturday "concerning the 30th anniversary for 2019." Performers hitting the stage today include Wes Mack, Leanne Pearson, Midland, Eric Church as well as Combs.
For Sunday, it will be a lineup of Canadian artists who take the stage in honour of Canada Day, including Bobby Wills, Lindsay Ell, High Valley, and Paul Brandt. There will also be a special tribute to former Countryfest president Eric Irwin who passed away in the fall.
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