A beauty of a video has landed tiny Bashaw with the Small Town Saturday Night country music concert — and the chance to turn local creativity into long-term sustainability.
Bashaw’s online parody of the musical Beauty and the Beast beat out competition from many larger rural centres in the province-wide contest sponsored by Travel Alberta and the Big Valley Jamboree. As a result, the town of 900 people won the right to stage the April 27 concert featuring singers Chad Brownlee, Clayton Bellamy and others. Bashaw also received $5,000 towards creative youth programs.
“We are beyond excited . . . we were up against larger communities, including Cold Lake and Bonnyville,” said Jackie Northey, a member of the Bashaw Small Town Saturday Night organizing committee.
In Bashaw’s tongue-in-cheek video, a rewritten version of Belle’s Song from Beauty and the Beast is used to introduce viewers to the picturesque community east of Ponoka.
The promotional clip starts off with local singer Hannah Miller, dressed as Belle, stepping out of a colourful cottage and sniffing tulips spilling out of a flower box in January.
Local resident Ty Wilson makes an appearance as Belle’s wooer, Gaston, and dozens of other Bashaw citizens also get into the fairy-tale spirit.
They include local pickup drivers, the town’s mayor, a 90-something-year-old local entrepreneur, and reams of local school children.
The clever, two-minute effort earned Bashaw 30 per cent of overall votes cast in the on-line contest to stage a “mini Big Valley Jamboree.”
By bringing singers Brownlee, Bellamy, as well as Bobby Wills, Alee, Tenille to town, Northey hopes the crowd-drawing Small Town Saturday Night concert will be an opportunity to sell Bashaw to potential new residents.
She said rural centres must always have sustainability in mind. “We can showcase the town, support the kids and hopefully attract new faces to the community,” added Northey, who is a learning co-ordinator with the Bashaw Adult Learning Council.
The council intends to put the $5,000 prize money from Travel Alberta towards the Bashaw School’s Arts Infusion Program and the Bashaw Creative Community Committee. All proceeds from the benefit concert will also go towards these projects.
Northey said the idea for the musical video was sparked by a local stage production of Beauty and the Beast, which had just wrapped before the video was made in January. Many of the cast members were filmed by local videographer Ben Wilson.
“We have an unusual number of creative people for a small community,” said Northey, who noted Bashaw has two community theatre groups — one of which launched a fundraising campaign to renovate the historic local theatre.
There’s also a local visual arts club, hand-bell choir, and various musical organizations.
“We have an incredible amount of talented people,” she added, including set and costume builders.
Northey said the whole community got behind the video, which is why it was such a success.
Last year, the town was in the top-five municipal finalists in the Alberta-wide contest that was won by Legal.
“Bashaw’s perseverance, creativity and competitive spirit have once again shone the spotlight on this wonderful Alberta community,” said Larry Werner, producer of Panhandle Productions, which puts on the annual Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose.
Alberta’s tourism minister, Richard Starke, said Bashaw’s winning entry is indicative of the “tremendous community spirit and pride” shown by rural towns across the province.
The Small Town Saturday Night contest aims to promote the “exceptional experiences” available outside of major centres.
Ticket information for the country concert slated for the Bashaw arena is expected to be available next week.