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Dauphin's country festival keeps enthusiastic crowd entertained

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/7/2017 (1013 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Dauphin's Countryfest at the Selo Ukraina amphitheatre was the place to be for music fans and flag-brandishers alike.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Dauphin's Countryfest at the Selo Ukraina amphitheatre was the place to be for music fans and flag-brandishers alike.

DAUPHIN — The unofficial headgear at Dauphin's Countryfest on Saturday was the bright red cowboy hat.

It was the perfect choice; it kept the sun, which popped in and out of the clouds in Dauphin Saturday from beating down on folks's heads; it fit the country music, with Saturday mainstage performers such as Nashville's the Cadillac Three, Texas singer Eric Paslay and headliner Luke Bryan; and the bright red colour was a part of most everybody's patriotic garb at Countryfest.

There were Canada T-shirts, tank tops, bikinis and even maple leaf umbrella hats to keep patriotic folks in the shade. And almost everywhere you looked, there was a Canada flag.

Maple leaves were so prevalent in the campground that to tell folk to "meet me at the RV, you know the one with the big Canada flag," was like saying you're the one at a hockey game in Winnipeg wearing a Jets jersey.

While Saturday night's mainstage lineup were all Americans — top Canadian acts Johnny Reid and Jess Moskaluke wind Countryfest up on Sunday night — that didn't matter to the red-and-white faithful in the audience.

Bryan added Dauphin, Manitoba and Canada in many of hits that he played early on, including Move, That's My Kind Of Night, Kick the Dust Up and Rain is a Good Thing.

The beer loving singer from Nashville told the jam-packed crowd that he had indulged a few Molson's before the show and the extra kick that Canadian beer provides should get him through the evening.

"After tonight I go on vacation," Bryan said. "That means I don't have to sing for 14 days after tonight. So I'm gonna give it all I can do tonight."

That he did, especially during a lengthy unplugged set that brought his six-piece backing band right behind him why he played a small piano. They delivered a trio of singalongs: Alabama's Mountain Music, Bryan Adams' Summer of '69 and Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline.

He wound up the acoustic portion with his ballad Have a Beer, and it would be hard to imagine a better place to sing the song than Dauphin.

Prior to Bryan, Abilene, Texas's Eric Paslay took the stage and acknowledged the Canadian faithful during one of his hits, Barefoot Blue Jean Night. It was among the highlights of the set from the ginger-haired singer. He also had the crowd singing to She Don't Love You, She's Just Lonely and an energetic cover of the Stones' Satisfaction.

Earlier Saturday, Nashville's the Cadillac Three blended singer Jaren Johnston's twang and classic lyrics about tailgating and whisky with the power chords of a metal group, proving how vast country and western music has become. 

There were plenty of Canadian acts on the Countryfest's other two stages Saturday, including Manitoba's Kendra Kay, who entertained Shania Twain fans with a great version of the Timmins, Ont. singer's classic Any Man of Mine.

And B.C. up-and-comers the Washboard Union were going to lead the late-night party at the top of the hill after Bryan's set.

While the Countryfest musical acts were providing the fireworks on stage, in the campground, actual fireworks are one of the few items not welcome. But folks who camp there always hear a few explosive cracks over a typical Countryfest weekend, and expected to hear more as Canada Day parties went on into the wee hours.

"Fireworks, that's a no-no," says Veronica Fisher of Elkhorn, who has been to nearly every Countryfest after hearing he first one from her dad's house when he lived close by to the Selo Ukraina, where Countryfest is held annually. 

Fisher was celebrating Canada Day Saturday afternoon with friends Gail Wanless, Valerie Lowton and Tracey Crawford, relaxing and recalling Countryfest legends while getting excited to see Bryan perform.

"There was one (firecracker) that didn't go poof and it landed on their neighbour's car," Fisher remembered.

"They made holes in the tents," recalled Crawford.

Setting off fireworks on your own may sound like a bit of harmless fun, but with so many people and vehicles congregating in the same place, it's a bad idea at Countryfest, and organizers have security guards on the lookout in the campground to crack down on firecrackers.

Fisher's son found out about that one a few years ago, when security caught him red-handed.

"The young kids will set them off and then run," she said, having a laugh thinking about the long ago incident. "My son was just too stupid to run."

alan.small@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @AlanDSmall

Alan Small

Alan Small
Arts and Life Editor

Alan Small was named the editor of the Free Press Arts and Life section in January 2013 after almost 15 years at the paper in a variety of editing roles.

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