Gospel celebration has loyal following

It is an event that they’ve marked on their calendars for the 14 years it has been in Red Deer.

It is an event that they’ve marked on their calendars for the 14 years it has been in Red Deer.

Every year Shirley and Bob travel 12 hours from their Penticton, B.C., home to Canada’s Gospel Music Celebration — an annual show that is the second largest of its kind on the continent.

Shirley, who declined to give her last name, says they rarely hear good gospel music anymore but do when they come to the three-day event.

The Gospel Music Celebration started on Thursday and wraps up on Saturday at Westerner Park.

“We have a lot of church friends who come here,” Shirley said, adding that the event acts much like a reunion.

After hearing from the couple, Bea Hildebrandt and her husband Bill, from Abbotsford, B.C., decided to take in the show of 21 professional and semi-professional music groups who have come from across Canada and the United States. It is the couple’s second year at the show.

“Once you’ve been you’re hooked,” Bea said.

She added that a church from Vancouver has also sent close to 40 people to the show, which draws close to 4,000 people per day. This is fantastic for Lima Taito who leads the group Keepers of the Faith Quartet with his three brothers and cousin.

The southern gospel group, originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, travelled to Red Deer from Washington State to perform.

They will be performing today at the Showcase Spectacular, which goes from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the Centrium.

“I know it can be a little unusual to have these Hawian guys sing southern gospel,” Taito chuckled.

He was minding the Keepers of the Faith booth on Thursday at an event trade show in the Prairie Pavilion at Westerner Park. The trade show markets CDs, memorabilia, Christian books and Bibles, among other things.

“We have some of the best talent in North America here to sing for us and every group brings a different flavour to the event,” said Wayne Dyck, co-owner of the show.

Dyck said he, and other co-owner Gordie Reimer, have been promoting gospel music for many years and have brought in some of the best talent they can muster.

Anyone 18 and under can attend the event for free. Canada’s Gospel Music Celebration features afternoon showcases and evening performances. Tickets are $15.75 plus handling fees for Friday and Saturday’s showcase spectacular.

Single tickets for the evening performances on Friday and Saturday are $38 plus fees.

Tickets are still available at TicketMaster. Visit www.gospelmusic.ca for more information.

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com

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