I recently attended both days of the third annual Central Music Festival immediately north of Red Deer in Stan Norem’s very scenic and suitable natural amphitheatre, enjoying every moment of it, including Friday evening’s cool, damp but delightful performances.
The location, in my opinion, is perfect! Only a few kilometres away, just off Highways 2, 2A and 11A, it is easily accessible.
The atmosphere, intimate yet secluded, the view from the vendors’ hill northeast toward the Balmoral escarpment, magnificent, the parking area extensive and handy to everything.
The attendance this year was very disappointing and surprising, but I don’t think it had much to do with the other festival options in the area.
With such a wide demographic from approximately 300,000 people within and adjacent to the Edmonton-Calgary corridor, musical and festival gurus of all genres could have and should have flooded any and all venues open to the public, rain or shine!
Where were all these people Friday and/or Saturday? Good question! Many probably sitting at home watching television while wondering what to do over the weekend — checking out the golf, baseball, football, whatever, and missing continuous, fantastic and memorable musical entertainment, everything from the smooth Gordie Tentrees Trio from Whitehorse to the legendary Dick Damron from Bentley!
They missed excellent and very talented sessions from musicians and singers such as incredible Shane Philip from Quadra Island, locals Lisa Heinrichs and Oldbury, flamboyant Crystal Plamondon, to 94 years of age David Honeyboy Edwards from the southern U.S.
Edwards captivated the crowd with his wide range of delta blues and fancy finger work on the guitar through many foot-tapping numbers.
I suspect the weather had a lot to do with the lower than expected turnout with people waiting to see what the sky looked like Saturday after a dull and damp Friday, then deciding it wouldn’t be worth it to go out just for the day.
From my viewpoint, we had our money’s worth by the end of Friday evening, the cloud and cool just adding to the festival flavour.
My advice to the organizers: don’t get discouraged. Keep up the good work, plan again for the perfect venue, get the people who attended and enjoyed the past three years to each bring along a couple of new festival folks of any and all backgrounds, perhaps provide an earlybird incentive package for the two days and lower the price a bit for a single-day ticket for those who have other conflicts this time of year.
My gratitude and appreciation goes out to the dedicated organizers, all the volunteers, the fabulous musicians, the many sponsors and the fine festival people, including Stan Norem, who support this very worthwhile and enjoyable endeavor right in our beautiful backyard!