Fans like to get up close and personal and that’s exactly what Alberta Country Music Awards’ annual Fan Fest offered Sunday.
Joffre area resident, Caitlyn Buzikevich, has attended the free concert for the past three years.
At the Fan Fest event Sunday, the 17-year-old was elated to see Drayton Valley country music artist Krissy Feniak live and get an autograph.
“She’s amazing, I saw her for the first time three years ago, and she is awesome,” said the teen after meeting with Feniak.
“I love country music and it’s always fun time,” she said about coming back to the event at Parkland Mall, year-after-year.
On Sunday she discovered Ben Chase, a country artist from Calgary, originally born in P.E.I., who performed at Fan Fest. Other performances were by: Stettler’s Renegade Station, Martina Dawn, Aaron Goodvin, The Prairie States, Drew Gregory and Devin Cooper.
The teenager also had tickets to go to the Alberta Country Music Awards show at the Cambridge Red Deer Hotel Sunday night. Chase along with Sean Gristwood, Ryan Langlois, Drew Gregory and Dan Davidson were nominees in the Male Artist of the Year category for the 2019 Alberta Country Music Awards.
Gristwood, country recording artist from Edmonton, was at Fan Fest, ahead of the awards ceremony. The artist said he likes “hanging out” with fans and get some “one-on-one time.”
“This is my first nomination at the ACMA… there are a lot of heavy hitters in this category,” said Gristwood.
Jordan Leaf, a Grande Prairie singer/songwriter, was up for the Horizon Youth award along with four other artists: Hailey Benedict, Martina Dawn, Hanna Gazso and Anna Johnson.
Leaf, who was also mingling with fans at Fan Fest, said she “cannot believe she got nominated, and she is up against some really great artists.”
“I’m just excited to be here and taking in all the country music, so I’m really, really stoked,” said the 19-year-old artist. “Look at how many people are here to watch the talent in Alberta, it’s nuts,” she said pointing to the hundreds of thousands of fans who were taking in the afternoon concert.
One of those fans was Dixie Furgeson, who came down to Red Deer, for the ACMA weekend, from Maple Creek, Sask, after she scored free passes.
The 27-year-old said she has been listening to country music since she was young and is familiar with most of the artists that were performing at Fan Fest.
“Growing up where I have, I’m only a half hour away from Albertan border, so everyone I’ve listened to have all been on Alberta country stations and I know just about all of them,” she said with a chuckle.
“Aaron Goodvin, I would like to see win some awards (nominated in the Entertainer of the Year category), and my friend Sean Gristwood,” she said.
Red Deer’s Ivan Daines, will be inducted into Alberta Country Music Hall of Fame Sunday night at the awards ceremony. The central Alberta cowboy is already an inductee of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
The awards presentations Sunday are: Song of the Year, Video of the Year, Album of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Musician of the Year, Group or Duo of the Year, Rising Star Award, Horizon Youth Award, Entertainer of the Year, Fans’ Choice Award, Single of the Year, and Community Spirit Award.