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This article was published 28/8/2017 (812 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WASAGAMING — Before Doc Walker took the stage at Riding Mountain National Park for a free outdoor concert, Doreen Beaulieu was adamant the band read a Safeway receipt.
Actually, it was the other side of the paper slip that mattered to Beaulieu, then which groceries were purchased.
The resident of Ebb and Flow First Nation wanted frontman Chris Thorsteinson to read their shout-out to Richard and Melanie Beaulieu of Thunder Bay, Ont., who were at the show for their wedding anniversary.
Lo and behold, Doreen found a way to get that receipt into Thorsteinson’s hands.
After reading out the well wishes early in the show Saturday night, Thorsteinson had a question for Doreen and her gathered family. How many years had the two been married, he wondered?
"Six?" he repeated aloud. "Man, you have a lot of work to do," Thorsteinson, a married man, replied with a knowing smile.
Estimates suggest thousands of people — in the neighbourhood of 6,000 — spilled onto the Clear Lake beachfront for the eighth time the national park has hosted a free concert for the masses.
The headliner was Doc Walker, one of the longest-running successful acts in Canadian country music. They are Manitoban, too. Starting as a small country outfit from Portage la Prairie, they’ve evolved into an award-winning group with a following from coast-to-coast.
Their fans span the country and different age groups, evidenced Saturday at Wasagaming. The group with the country rock sound got the feet tapping of teenagers singing up front to the seniors in lawn chairs 150 feet away.
The opening act was Madelin Merlo, an up-and-coming country music artist who won the "Rising Star" award from the Canadian Country Music Association in 2015.
Doreen Beaulieu said her family, which makes an annual weekend trip to Riding Mountain each year, re-arranged their schedule to be in the audience for Doc Walker.
"I love their music," Beaulieu said, in explaining her fandom. "It’s all country for me."
For those who knew Doc Walker well among five girls aged 13-14 from the Selkirk area, "Rocket Girl" was their preferred song.
"I like how he connects with his crowd, like eye contact-wise," said Carlie Perrett, 13, of why she sings along to Doc Walker.
The concert would be a highlight of the friends’ packed weekend at the park, renting bikes, going paddling and eating ice cream, they said.
For a group of friends from Killarney who recently graduated high school, this Doc Walker concert and the weekend as a whole would be their last get-together a while.
Brina Rathwell will continue her schooling at Assiniboine Community College this fall, Shaelyn Vallotton and Beth Millan are headed to the University of Regina and Carleigh Zarn will find work in New Zealand.
"All of our friends are doing awesome things, going different ways," Zarn said. "It’s nice to do these last fun things now and then leave — till next summer."
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