Alan Small

Alan Small

Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he had been an editor, starting out on the night copy desk, then to assistant city editor, and starting in 2013, as editor of the Arts and Life section.

Alan grew up on a farm near Radway, Alta., population 200, and left the farm life and agriculture studies behind in 1988 to work in newspapers in the Alberta communities of Morinville, St. Albert and Medicine Hat until 1997, when he moved to Winnipeg.

While working nights at the Free Press, he took classes at the University of Manitoba during the day and he earned an arts degree in 2006. He found out there are many ways a major in German and a minor in film studies can come in handy.

He also has learned about kidney disease over the years, coping with its symptoms since 2006. He began dialysis treatments in 2017 and about two years later was one of the fortunate people to receive a kidney transplant.

 

Recent articles of Alan Small

Burt Block Party returns with two weekends of gigs

Alan Small 5 minute read Preview

Burt Block Party returns with two weekends of gigs

Alan Small 5 minute read Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022

Holding a summer festival or any outdoor event in Manitoba can be as unpredictable as the province’s fickle summer weather — one moment it’s hot, and the next it’s not.

Organizers of the Current Festival, which was to make its debut this weekend but was cancelled on Monday, found out how challenging producing a weekend-long event can be, even in a festival-crazy city like Winnipeg.

Prior to the pandemic, Manitoba’s established largest not-for-profit music festivals, Winnipeg Folk Festival and Dauphin’s Countryfest, were like ducks on a pond — what you could see was placid and unbothered by all the commotion, while all the hard work mostly went unseen.

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022

The Watchmen will be performing at the Burt Block Party. (Supplied)

Lumineers deliver dazzling showcase

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

Lumineers deliver dazzling showcase

Alan Small 4 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

There are some who dream of the Lumineers one day appearing at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

It’s pure fantasy, and Wednesday night’s dazzling showcase for the Denver indie-folk group at Canada Life Centre proved that a hockey arena, not an idyllic park setting with chilled-out hippies, is where the Lumineers should be properly enjoyed.

Those fantasies officially vaporized the moment after a curtain with the Lumineers’ logo was raised at the downtown arena, revealing a video screen shaped like a neon flower that showed cityscapes, old home movies, spooky skies and when necessary, Lumineers’ singer Wesley Schultz.

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Denver indie-folk group the Lumineers perform at the Canada Life Centre on Wednesday.

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 6 minute read Preview

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 6 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

Winnipeg Beer FestivalSaturday, Aug. 13, 5 p.m.-midnightFort Gibraltar, 866 Rue St. JosephTickets from $17.35, wpgbeerfestival.com

With weekend temperatures set to soar, there’s no better spot to grab a cold one in Winnipeg this Saturday than within the wooden walls of Fort Gibraltar.

The fifth annual Winnipeg Beer Festival returns to St. Boniface on Aug. 13, with 23 producers of beer (of course), wine, cider, mead, spirits and more set to pour their wares to help thirsty locals beat the heat.

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

FREE PRESS FILES
The fifth annual Winnipeg Beer Festival returns to St. Boniface on Aug. 13.

Steve Earle brings latest albums, and hopefully a few classics, to the Burt

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

Steve Earle brings latest albums, and hopefully a few classics, to the Burt

Alan Small 4 minute read Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

It’s common for artists in their 60s to lean on music from their past.

Steve Earle, who plays the Burton Cummings Theatre Tuesday night with his band the Dukes, will be going way back, long before the 1980s when Guitar Town and Copperhead Road made the 67-year-old a country-rock star.

Earle’s latest album, Jerry Jeff, pays tribute to one of his mentors, country singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker, who died of throat cancer in October 2020 at the age of 78.

It’s the fourth album of tributes and the third honouring outlaw-country legends who showed Earle the songwriting ropes when he moved to Nashville in 1974. Townes, which included a collection of Townes Van Zandt covers, came out in 2009, followed by 2019’s Guy, which included Earle’s versions of Guy Clark’s tunes.

Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

Mark Humphrey / The Associated Press

Ghosts of West Virginia, from 2020, is Steve Earle’s latest album of original songs, which come from the play Coal Country.

‘Good ears, good people’ help Weed Man Son to grow

Alan Small 5 minute read Preview

‘Good ears, good people’ help Weed Man Son to grow

Alan Small 5 minute read Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022

There’s a lot of Jamaica and a lot of Winnipeg in Dill the Giant’s music.

The cultural mix that is a major part of his life resonates in his 2021 album, Weed Man Son, and a new deluxe version that includes nine remixes created by Winnipeg musical friends of the original LP’s eight tracks.

“That was the goal of the whole record, to see what new life could be breathed into it, and giving a platform for all the other great producers we have here,” says Dill the Giant, who is Dillan Morgan when he isn’t performing solo or with 3PEAT, the Western Canadian Music Award-winning rap group.

Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022

Cirque stars would never dream of scrimping on training and preparation

Alan Small 6 minute read Preview

Cirque stars would never dream of scrimping on training and preparation

Alan Small 6 minute read Friday, Aug. 5, 2022

The morning of a Cirque du Soleil show resembles a game-day practice before a hockey game, and in the case of OVO at the Canada Life Centre on Wednesday morning, the venue was the same.

Watching the group of crickets — gymnasts, tumblers and trampolinists play the springy insects in the show — stretching and chatting in various languages prior to their rehearsal is a master class in getting your body ready for the rigours of the day as well as building the teamwork necessary to make the night’s main event a success.

It’s a beehive of activity, apropos for a show with an insect theme. Come showtime Wednesday evening, the performers will switch from their morning workout togs into lavish costumes with antennae and wings, transforming into creepy crawlies that star in a seven-show run that winds up with two shows today and two more Sunday.

In the backstage workout area, a long, thick rubber band descends from a 10-metre steel rigging and performers use it to aid their stretching and as a grip for the first of the day’s many flips and twists.

Friday, Aug. 5, 2022

Mike Sudoma/Winnipeg Free Press

OVO performers stretch and warm up. The two physiotherapists are never far.

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 3 minute read Preview

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 3 minute read Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

Movie night at the Lyric TheatreFriday, Aug. 5, 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.Lyric Theatre, Assiniboine ParkFree admission

Assiniboine Park’s weekly summer movie night returns to the Lyric Theatre this Friday with a lineup heavy on big-budget, mainly family-friendly flicks.

The free double bill kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with a screening of Sing 2, the 2021 animated musical comedy featuring the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and many more. This time around, the gang must convince Clay Calloway, an aging rock star lion (voiced by Bono), to leave his reclusive life and come out of retirement. Clay and the gang must face their fears in a production that could make or break their careers.

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

Marvel Studios Kumail Nanjiani (from left), Lia McHugh, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie and Don Lee in a scene from Eternals.

New music

Alan Small 6 minute read Preview

New music

Alan Small 6 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

COUNTRYAmanda Shires

Take it Like a Man (Silver Knife/ATO)

Amanda Shires is a country fiddler adept enough to have been a member of the fabled Texas Playboys when she was just 15. Today, at 40, she is an accomplished singer, songwriter and frontwoman who has released six studio albums, racked up scores of session credits and boasts an MFA degree in poetry. In 2019, Shires co-founded the Highwomen with Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Maren Morris, and she also just happens to be married to Jason Isbell and plays in his Grammy-winning band, the 400 Unit.

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

Cirque du Soleil returns to Winnipeg with their long-running OVO

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

Cirque du Soleil returns to Winnipeg with their long-running OVO

Alan Small 4 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

It took a financial safety net to help bring a company known for its death-defying acrobatics and aerial choreography back to Winnipeg.

Cirque du Soleil brings its insect-themed event OVO to the Canada Life Centre for a seven-show run beginning tonight.

That the troupe is touring at all in 2022 is owing to its executives performing boardroom derring-do after the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to shut its operations in spring 2020.

Daniel Lamarre, Cirque’s president and chief executive officer, described the company’s 2020 crisis as going from $1 billion in revenue to zero in 48 hours.

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

Supplied

While OVO is one of Cirque du Soleil’s longest-running shows, this is the first time it is being performed in Winnipeg.

Supplied photo While OVO is one of Cirque du Soleil’s longest-running shows, this is the first time it is being performed in Winnipeg.

Nathaniel Rateliff revelling in unexpected joys of the road

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

Nathaniel Rateliff revelling in unexpected joys of the road

Alan Small 4 minute read Thursday, Jul. 28, 2022

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats arrive in Winnipeg fresh from an enviable musical experience.

The Denver singer-songwriter and his band performed at the Newport Folk Festival last Sunday and welcomed legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon to the stage in the middle of their set of covers of Simon and Garfunkel classics and solo material.

It was a notable event — it’s difficult to believe Sunday was Simon’s first appearance at the famous festival — even if it was rightly overshadowed by Joni Mitchell’s performance the same day, her first in public since suffering a brain aneurysm and undergoing surgery in 2015.

“It’s hard to put into words the joy we felt bringing the great American songwriter Paul Simon to the Newport folk stage,” Rateliff said after backing Simon, 80, on a rendition of Graceland, The Boxer and other classic tunes. “Thank you, Paul, for your songs, your voice and your presence.”

Thursday, Jul. 28, 2022

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 3 minute read Preview

What’s up

Eva Wasney and Alan Small and Jen Zoratti and Ben Sigurdson and Jill Wilson 3 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

Winnipeg Comedy ShowcaseJuly 31, 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.)Park TheatreTickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door

When the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase made its debut in January 2014, comedian and showcase host/producer Jared Story figured it might be a one-off.

He was (happily) proven (very) wrong: Sunday night’s show at the Park Theatre will be the 30th edition of the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase — a nice, round number that illustrates just how important the showcase has been for emerging and established local comics alike. When comedians are cutting their teeth, it’s often while being ignored at an open-mic night at a bar; the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, meanwhile, offers comics the chance to audience-test bits and hone their tight fives in a theatre.

Featured funny people on Sunday night’s bill include Andy Noble, Emmanuel Lomuro, Karlee Liljegren, Abby Falvo, Matt Kay and Carson Košik. Advance tickets are available via Ticketweb, Eventbrite or from the comics on the bill.

Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

Stones exhibit keeps rolling to September

Alan Small 3 minute read Preview

Stones exhibit keeps rolling to September

Alan Small 3 minute read Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

Stones exhibit keeps rolling to September

Unzipped, the exhibition that takes a look back at the 60-year career of the Rolling Stones, has been held over until Sept. 4.

The extended run at Expo Live! at Portage Place gives fans of the band another five weeks to check out its collection of artifacts, musical instruments, costumes, art and music.

The Ronnie Wood Pop-Up Gallery, a collection of works by the Stones’ guitarist at 225 Carlton St., has also been held over until Sept. 4.

Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

Unzipped, an international exhibition devoted to The Rolling Stones, will make a stop in Winnipeg at Expo Live! at Portage Place. The display will be the first of many hosted at True North Sports + Entertainment’s new exhibition venue, located in the former Staples location in Portage Place. Unzipped opens an seven-week limited run June 11 to July 31.

Kids fringe show performed entirely in southern Michif

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

Kids fringe show performed entirely in southern Michif

Alan Small 4 minute read Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022

In Michif, minoosh means “kitty,” “la tacheer” is the word for teapot and “poonam” translates into English as “makes a fire.”

These are among the Michif words audience members can hear and learn during Minoosh Doo-Kapeeshiw, a Métis-themed show aimed at kids that runs until Saturday at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.

Charlene Van Buekenhout, a longtime fringe performer and producer, as well as programming and artistic director with the Dalnavert Museum, spent some of her spare time during the pandemic pause learning southern Michif, a dialect of the language spoken in southwestern Manitoba.

Van Buekenhout, whose mother’s family has Métis heritage, took classes in southern Michif at the University of Manitoba and online courses through Where Are Your Keys, which aims to revitalize endangered languages.

Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022

Supplied
Charlene Van Buekenhout’s physical theatre piece Minoosh Doo-Kapeeshiw uses gestures and context to help teach viewers words in southern Michif.

Gimli’s film festival returns with slate of classic and cutting edge cinema

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

Gimli’s film festival returns with slate of classic and cutting edge cinema

Alan Small 4 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

The projectors are rolling and the popcorn is popping for the first time since 2019 as the Gimli Film Festival — make that the Gimli International Film Festival, more on that later — welcomes film-goers back to the lakeside community’s theatres.

Seventy films will be screened in Gimli by the time the event winds up Sunday night.

Getting the festival band back together and attracting volunteers to help it run smoothly has been a challenge that executive director Alan Wong says they’ve managed to overcome.

“It is very challenging and it’s been very hectic this year, but I’ve been hearing that a lot from arts organizations and festivals,” says Wong, who took over the job at the beginning of 2022 after attending the festival as a fan and filmmaker. “The patrons are keen to come back, but the partners, the vendors, everybody you need to work with to make a festival go, everybody’s either been so busy this year or have been struggling with resources or struggling with staff, so operations aren’t as smooth as pre-pandemic times.”

Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

LILJA JONSDOTTIR
One of two Icelandic films, Quake, starring Anita Briem, is Gimli International Film Festival’s Thursday-night feature.

Huge arena crowd treated to Fogerty’s classic music

Alan Small 5 minute read Preview

Huge arena crowd treated to Fogerty’s classic music

Alan Small 5 minute read Sunday, Jul. 17, 2022

THE godfather of swamp-rock brought his famous sounds of the bayou Sunday to go with down south heat and humidity that made Winnipeg a giant sweat puddle.

John Fogerty, rock ‘n’ roll royalty owing to fronting Creedence Clearwater Revival and hits of his own as a solo artist, took the stage at Canada Life Centre in front of about 9,000 fans seeking to once again hear classics such as Up Around the Bend, which led his set.

His trademark swamp-rock sound came to the fore in his two songs Green River, which included an excellent Fogerty solo, and the equally-famous Born on the Bayou.

Sunday, Jul. 17, 2022

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
John Fogerty has played Winnipeg’s downtown five times in the past 15 years, but not since 2014. Sunday evening, he entertained fans with his trademark swamp-rock sound.

Padgett’s popular guitar-slinging show lands him a choice Toronto theatre gig

Alan Small 5 minute read Preview

Padgett’s popular guitar-slinging show lands him a choice Toronto theatre gig

Alan Small 5 minute read Saturday, Jul. 16, 2022

Fringe theatre fans across North America have long known about Chase Padgett and his guitar licks, singing and his knack at telling a good tale.

It appears some of Canada’s top theatre executives have also gotten the memo.

Mirvish Productions, Canada’s largest theatre company, has signed up Padgett and his storytelling musical 6 Guitars for an eight-show run Aug. 2-7 at the CAA Theatre in Toronto.

”I’m really hoping to knock it out of the park,” says the 38-year-old Padgett, who is performing a new one-man musical, Chase Padgett: Lucky Break, at Prairie Theatre Exchange during the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, which continues until July 24.

Saturday, Jul. 16, 2022

Andy Batt photo
While the content of Padgett’s 6 Guitars remains the same, he’s rearranged the music to fit the addition of bass and drums.

New Van Gogh exhibition uses animation to immerse viewers

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

New Van Gogh exhibition uses animation to immerse viewers

Alan Small 4 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

Think about how Vincent Van Gogh would react if he came upon a giant projection of his 1889 self-portrait beamed onto a six-metre-high wall in a room the size of a town square.

Then imagine what the tempestuous 19th-century Dutch master would say when he saw that same image of himself blink.

That surprise is one of many twists on Van Gogh’s famous works in Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, which opens Thursday at Hall D of the RBC Convention Centre and runs until Sept. 4.

The show builds on the success and creativity of Imagine Van Gogh, which creators Normal Studios from Montreal and Winnipeg producers Paquin Entertainment Group brought to the convention centre in September 2020.

Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Beyond Van Gogh is different from Imagine Van Gogh, which appeared in Winnipeg in 2020.

Ex-maestro ‘was really the champion of the WSO’

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

Ex-maestro ‘was really the champion of the WSO’

Alan Small 4 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

Bramwell Tovey, who was the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s music director from 1989 to 2001 and helped found the Winnipeg New Music Festival, died Tuesday at his home in Barrington, R.I.

Tovey was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma in 2019, according to a release by the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was its principal conductor and artistic director.

Tovey had undergone surgery shortly after his cancer diagnosis in Boston but the sarcoma returned in January. Tovey died one day after his 69th birthday, surrounded by his family.

Richard Turner, the WSO’s principal harpist during Tovey’s tenure, said, “the Winnipeg symphony was his orchestra” and that the London-born conductor set a high standard for his successors.

Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

JEFF DE BOOY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Former WSO maestro Bramwell Tovey died Tuesday at his home in Barrington, R.I. He was 69.

Singer-songwriter has friends in high places

Alan Small 6 minute read Preview

Singer-songwriter has friends in high places

Alan Small 6 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

Not many artists can say they have received a seal of approval from a future pope.

It’s part of Onna Lou’s origin story that begins in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, and continues with her move to Winnipeg, where the Spanish-language singer-songwriter calls home, and a Thursday night concert at the Centre culturel franco-manitobain, where she will debut her latest album, Diamante.

She met Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — who, prior to becoming Pope Francis in 2013, was archbishop of Buenos Aires — while playing guitar during her teens at church performances.

“I studied classical composition in Argentina at a Catholic university,” Onna Lou says. “You have to pay — it’s a private college — and my family was broke so they couldn’t pay for tuition anymore, so I got student loans and I was working, Monday to Monday,”

Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

Winnipeg Folk Fest traditions, music return with no signs of rust from long pandemic pause

Alan Small 5 minute read Preview

Winnipeg Folk Fest traditions, music return with no signs of rust from long pandemic pause

Alan Small 5 minute read Friday, Jul. 8, 2022

BIRDS HILL PROVINCIAL PARK — Some habits are impossible to break.

For a quartet of women their Winnipeg Folk Fest rituals have outlasted the COVID-19 pandemic and 1,089 days of silence from Birds Hill.

The main one for Eileen Mayor-Masse, Linda Gould, Alexis Masse and Linda McLaren was to find their favourite spot late Thursday afternoon during another folk-fest tradition, the tarp run.

While there is no running, the four sashayed to the front and tacked their tarp down to the left of the folk fest mainstage, as they have done for years.

Friday, Jul. 8, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Folkies who longed for the return of the annual Winnipeg Folk Festival couldn’t contain their excitement at being back at the mainstage for the first time in three years.

Folk festival mainstage ready to welcome locals, legends alike

Alan Small 6 minute read Preview

Folk festival mainstage ready to welcome locals, legends alike

Alan Small 6 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

It’ll be a sweet return to the Winnipeg Folk Festival mainstage Thursday night.

Winnipeg trio Sweet Alibi will have the honour of being the performers who bring live music back to the festival’s site at Birds Hill Provincial Park after a three-year hiatus brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group — Jess Ray Ayre, Amber Nielsen and Michelle Anderson — say they recognize the significance of the moment when they make their mainstage debut at 6 p.m.

“That makes me more nervous,” Anderson says with a laugh Wednesday afternoon. “I just made an Instagram post saying we all grew up at that festival, we have been going for years. Personally, I was never like, ‘Some day I’ll play up on that mainstage,’ I never thought of it like that.

Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Winnipeg folk trio Sweet Alibi — Jess Rae Ayre, Amber Nielsen and Michelle Anderson — kick off the Winnipeg Folk Festival on the mainstage.

Joyful coda for rocker Bachman as he is reunited with cherished guitar stolen 45 years ago

Alan Small 8 minute read Preview

Joyful coda for rocker Bachman as he is reunited with cherished guitar stolen 45 years ago

Alan Small 8 minute read Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

Randy Bachman’s six-string saga that’s almost 60 years old reached a cheerful final chord on Canada Day. 

It was at the Canadian embassy in Tokyo Friday when he was reunited with the orange 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins electric guitar he first ogled in a Winnipeg music shop in 1964.

He eventually bought the instrument for $400 and performed with it during his days with the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive before it was stolen from his hotel room in Toronto in 1977.

“My girlfriend is right there,” said Bachman, 78, as the Gretsch guitar on which he wrote American Woman, These Eyes and other hits was handed to him by TAKESHI, a Japanese musician who had bought it at a Tokyo store in 2014 without knowing its history.

Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

Japanese musician Takeshi, left, hands Bachman his old guitar in Tokyo on Friday. The artist agreed to return it to Bachman in exchange for a similar one. Bachman searched and found another Gretsch guitar made the same week as the one that disappeared in 1977. (Eugene Hoshiko / The Associated Press)

Country proud and loud

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

Country proud and loud

Alan Small 4 minute read Friday, Jul. 1, 2022

DAUPHIN — Canada Day at Dauphin’s Countryfest is as loud and proud as ever.

Canadian flags were waving in the breeze, folks were wearing red and white and there was even a best-dressed Canadian contest.

Musicians — all of whom this weekend hail from Canada — earned quick cheers for celebrating the 155th anniversary of Confederation or just an old-fashioned “yee-haw” from a crowd, some of whom wore Maple Leaf ribbons from their cowboy hats.

Music roared from Countryfest’s mainstage Friday for the first time since 2019 and singer Terri Clark mentioned how much better music is now compared to playing live-streamed shows on the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown.

Friday, Jul. 1, 2022

CHELSEA KEMP / THE BRANDON SUN
“You don’t know how much of a big deal this is,” Jess Moskaluke tells the Countryfest crowd Friday. “We’ve had this contract to play Dauphin for two, three years.”

Right here, right now: ecstatic fans return to Countryfest

Alan Small 4 minute read Preview

Right here, right now: ecstatic fans return to Countryfest

Alan Small 4 minute read Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

DAUPHIN — A VIP pass collecting dust under a fridge magnet and an emailed ticket stashed in a computer file folder hardly seem like marriage vows.

For some folks at Dauphin’s Countryfest on Thursday night though, those artifacts from 2019 and 2020 — a bygone era for many — are tangible symbols of commitment just the same.

“I’ve had them forever,” said Audrey Prokopchuk, who grabbed her VIP pass off the refrigerator Thursday and made the short drive east from her home in nearby Grandview to finally take part in Countryfest, festivities she had first planned for Canada Day weekend two years ago.

The event was wiped out in 2020 and 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a two-year shutdown of almost all large public gatherings around the world.

Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

ALAN SMALL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Charlie Major performed an early acoustic set for about 250 VIP pass holders Thursday night.