Preparations are in full swing for the third annual Central Music Festival to go on rain or shine this weekend.
The Amos Garrett Trio, Dick Damron, Gordie Tentrees and local band Oldbury will join a long lineup of 26 some musicians, including Mississippi bluesman Honeyboy Edwards, Mongolian musicians Altai-Khangai, Vancouver roots singer Ndidi Onukwulu, Cajun crooner Crystal Plamondon and, from Calgary: Steve Coffey and the Lokels and six-piece African band Karamoko Kouyate.
The festival, to also include local songwriters Lisa Heinrichs, Donna Durand, and Curtis Phagoo, runs from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday and continues from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday in a natural amphitheatre on private property north of the city.
Planning the event, which has been described as more laid back and family friendly than larger outdoor festivals, has been a year-round job for producer Mike Bradford. He said, “It’s been really busy and lots of work — but once it gets rolling, it’s a party.”
Besides erecting the stage and lighting on Wednesday, crews were also setting up tents for 15 food and craft vendor booths, a beer garden and a children’s craft area where yo-yo expert Udai Iga and magician Trent Tinney will entertain youngsters.
Bradford has 125 volunteers lined up to help during the event, which for the first time will feature a beer garden.
“We were taking the evolution of the festival one step at a time and we thought the time was right,” said Bradford, who has ensured there are good sightlines from the beer garden and food booths to the stage.
As usual, early tickets sales have been slow. Bradford chalks it up to a Red Deer thing. “The awareness is there, but it seems to be that people wait to the last minute to buy tickets.”
While the same thing happened last year, some 400 to 600 people eventually showed up on each day of the festival to enjoy the music. Bradford would like to attract from 500 to 1,000 people daily this year.
Tickets are $55 for a two-day pass ($45 for students and seniors). A one-day pass is $40 for any age (kids 12 and under are free when accompanied by a paying adult). They can be purchased from the Black Knight Ticket Centre, Valhalla Pure Outfitters or at the gate.
To get to the site, drive north on Taylor Drive through Red Deer, cross Hwy 11A, then head about five km north on the C&E Trail, and turn west for about 1.6 km on Township Road 392. The festival route will be well signed, said Bradford.
Friday’s lineup is: Gordie Tentrees, Stephanie Bosch, Amos Garrett Trio, Chloe Albert, Shane Philip, Karamoko Kouyate, Thea Neumann, and Ndidi Onukwulu.
Saturday’s lineup: Oldbury, Juanita Faas, Lisa Heinrichs, Dayle Simpson, Steve Coffey & The Lokels, Ryan Sande, Jake Peters, Herky Cutler, De La Terra, Donna Durand, Altai-Khangai, Curtis Phagoo, Heather Blush & The Uppercuts, Honeyboy Edwards, Amy Bishop, Crystal Plamondon, Steve Arsenault, and Dick Damron.
For more information, go to www.centralmusicfest.com