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This article was published 29/6/2017 (1061 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The fans have gone country — but with more than 50 performers, 2,000 volunteers, 30 vendors and 14,000 visitors — Dauphin’s Countryfest is its own small city.
On Wednesday afternoon, visitors and their vehicles were lined up at the gates of the four-day festival, eager to set up camp. An organizer said some had been parked by the gate since Friday, even though most of them had reserved camping spots.
"It’s exactly like setting up a mid-sized city for 14,000 people, and then tearing it all down a week later," said Eric Irwin, chairman of Countryfest’s board.
Fans have come to see more than 50 performers and groups who will perform on three stages during the Thursday to Sunday event.
The lineup features such stars as Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Johnny Reid and Manitoba favourite Doc Walker.
As of Wednesday afternoon, only a couple of hundred tickets remained, Irwin said, and organizers expected a full capacity of 14,000 visitors during the four-day event.
On Wednesday, sound technicians were readying the stages, while volunteers prepared merchandise booths and were ready to guide guests to their camping spots. They’ll also be serving the beverages.
Non-profit Countryfest contracts directly with area service groups for its volunteers. That puts an estimated $100,000 into the coffers of those groups, Irwin said.
Volunteers with the air cadets and the Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School band help dispose of garbage. Garbage and recycling is also picked up from the campers.
Irwin said that, unlike other major Canadian country music festivals, Countryfest has a recycling centre on the spot.
"We’re the only event that has a full-time recycling set up on site. We try to recycle everything that comes through there and we get tons and tons of recycling," he said.
About a dozen generators help keep electricity flowing, and truckloads of ice keep things cool.
Plus — like other cities — there are roads, and sewer and water services (in this case, trucks that visit the campsites).
"It’s really a land of details," Irwin said of the daunting task of organizing such a big event.
Winnipeg security firms will be on patrol as part of a budget of more than $300,000 for security and first-aid personnel.
RCMP co-ordinate with the local hospital, ambulance service and fire department. Mounties do walkthroughs of the site and are available to haul off problem drunks.
Dauphin Staff Sgt. Nolan Suss noted that Countryfest happens the same time as the Dauphin Ag Society Fair. And so, every Dauphin detachment member — about 17 constables and three corporals — is on duty.
"Nobody has the day off," Suss said.
Plus, MPI funding provides for six officers per day who are brought in from other detachments to set up checkstops in the area.
The Countryfest cowtown, just south of Dauphin, also has its own helicopter, for rides, a sports bar and a "mini mall" for trinkets.
Hopefully, someone sells rubber boots besides the cowboy variety, as things are expected to get a little wet.
The high for today is forecast for 20 C, but there’s risk of a thunderstorm. Light rain and a high of 18 C is predicted for Friday, while Saturday is expected to bring a high of 20 C with a mix of sun and clouds. Sunday should be mainly sunny with a high of 24 C.