INNISFAIL – It has been a busy past few months for the town’s rodeo legend Ivan Daines.
He has been furiously planning the Ivan Daines Friends & Heroes 42nd Annual Country Music Pick-nic, a summer event that over the decades has become a must-attend for hundreds of country music loving Central Albertans and many more across the province and Canada and into the United States. This year’s music festival starts tomorrow (Aug. 8) at the Daines Rodeo Ranch Grounds and runs to Aug. 12.
“People ask me why I keep doing it. I say ‘I do it because that is what I do and that is who I am. That is what I love. It is called friends and heroes, and they are all my friends and heroes,'” said the town’s beloved cowboy as enthusiastically as ever.
The festival begins with free admission on Aug. 8 and the Central Alberta Karaoke Championship. The top three winners will earn a recording prize with Calgary’s Encore Music Studio.
And while that is going on the festival will also have its beer gardens, nightly bonfires, barn dances and plenty of awards, including the Country Music Legends and Legendary Awards, and the Music Pick-nic Gentlemen and Ladies Award.
The festival will also have its own Cowboy Up Challenge on Saturday and Sunday, an equestrian sporting event featured across North America that showcases horsemanship skills and speed of both the horse and rider. And of course there will be the Sunday pancake breakfast (Aug. 12), along with barrel racing and gospel and country music.
But the five-day annual event will always be about music and Daines has signed up 40 of the finest performers from across the region, province, Canada and from south of the border.
Headlining this year is Russell deCarle, the front man of the award-winning Canadian country music band, Prairie Oyster, which was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. As well, the festival has also attracted Jimmie Dale Gilmore, a three-time Grammy award-nominated American country singer, songwriter, actor, recording artist and producer.
“He’s big, just like Willie Nelson. He even looks like Willie. He is a classy Texan and entertainer. When I rodeoed in the 1970s I listened to him on the radio while riding bucking horses through Texas,” said Daines, who is also bringing in Hugh McLennan of the Spirit of the West Radio Show.
“I can go on and on on every artist. There is a list out there. It is a book. It is what I do,” said Daines, noting bad weather, which has sometimes happened over the years, won’t dampen the spirits of the festival. “We will take it as it comes.”
If the weatherman is correct Daines and his dedicated helpers need not worry. The forecast from last week said the weather should be just fine, with lots of warm sun, from Aug. 8 to Aug. 12.