With summer winding down and children heading back to school, Blackfalds United Church is holding one last celebration before the end of the season.
Country Gospel Weekend, which runs Sept. 6-8 at the Blackfalds All Star Park, is a weekend full of great old-fashioned entertainment in support of the Blackfalds United Church.
“If you like music, if you like down-home music, if you like visiting with your neighbours, it’s all there,” said event organizer Jim Escott. “It’s a weekend of getting together and having some fun and listening to some great entertainment.”
Country Gospel Weekend begins at 5 p.m. on Sept. 6 and runs straight through the weekend with a Gospel church service Sunday morning. This year, Escott said there will be 18 entertainers performing and he is anticipating more than 650 country Gospel fans attending.
He added that the event has grown considerably over the years since its beginning, when 200 fans was normal for the weekend.
“We’ve certainly gotten some notoriety,” said Escott.
Escott said the key to Country Gospel Weekend’s success and growth is the entertainers. As an entertainer himself, Escott said he understands the importance of keeping entertainers happy and makes every effort to make those at the concert feel welcome and treat them just like big league music stars. “If you have a happy entertainer you have a happy audience,” said Escott.
Keeping people happy is a theme of the event it seems. Escott said that one of the purposes of the event is to give the community a chance to take it easy and forget about what’s going on in their lives for a little while.
“It’s just to spread some fellowship,” said Escott. “For as long as you are there, hopefully you forget about some of the problems you might have.”
To further promote that community feeling, Escott focuses on showcasing local talent at the event rather than obtaining bigger and possibly better known acts, he said.
He added instead, the concert works to promote these local performers and makes it easier for the people to connect with them.
Escott also said that there is a lot of local talent that would go unrecognized if not for shows like this one.
“It’s better for the church, it’s better for the people and they don’t realize how good they are until they actually listen to them,” said Escott.
He said the Country Gospel Weekend began seven years ago and was originally held in Eckville.
In the third year of the concert, the show was moved to the multiplex in Blackfalds in order to simplify its organization and expand the event. A year later, it was moved to its current location at the ball diamonds in Blackfalds All Star Park. It is now in its fifth year in Blackfalds.
While Escott was perhaps instrumental in getting the weekend-long concert started, he was quick praise the rest of the extremely dedicated group of volunteers without whom the event would not be possible.
“I’m not the only guy,” said Escott. “There is no ‘I’ in team.”
Country Gospel Weekend runs Sept. 6, 5 to 9:30 p.m., Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a 9 a.m. worship service.
Weekend, day and individual performance passes can be purchased at $30, $15 and $5 respectively. RV camping is available. For more information contact Jim at 403-391-1397, Moe at 403-357-6678 or John at 403-885-4857 or visit www.blackfaldsunitedchurch.com.