It’s been a long time coming, and there have been a couple of changes to the format, but an event that was scheduled to take place in Ashcroft in summer 2020 is finally happening on Aug. 19.
Ashcroft’s Ryan Lake had the idea of staging a barn dance back in 2020. “We lost the rodeo, and a big part of that was the rodeo dance,” he explains. “Originally the idea was to rekindle that sort of spirit with a barn dance.”
The event was going to take place in the Drylands Arena, with money raised going to the Honour Ranch. Then COVID-19 hit, and the event was postponed. Lake says the event has gone from being a barn dance to an outdoor “Country in the Park” concert, taking place at the Heritage Park on Railway Avenue.
“People are more comfortable outside, with COVID still around,” he says, adding that the original indoor event would have been fully licensed and thus only for those aged 19+. “This way we can have it for all ages.”
The concert is headlined by Canadian country music star Cory Gallant and his full band, the Red Dirt Posse. They’ll be supported by Kamloops musician Tanner Dawson, who — like Gallant — has played in Ashcroft before.
The stage will be set up in the parking lot by the visitor centre, and Railway Avenue will be closed between 6th and 7th Streets before and during the concert, so attendees can spill out into the street, as well as throughout the park; bring your own chairs for extra comfort. The music starts at 7 p.m., but before that there will be a summer market starting at 5 p.m., organized by Ashcroft’s Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator Margaret Moreira.
“We’re sending invitations to vendors to set up for free along the boardwalk,” she says, adding that vendors need to bring their own tables and chairs. Anyone who would like to be a vendor can contact Moreira at (250) 453-9161 or by email at email@example.com.
UniTea Café, across the street from the park, will have a fenced-off beer garden, and Ashcroft Mini Donuts will be serving up some sweet treats. The Cookshack Cravings food truck will be there from Kamloops, offering poutine, burgers, tacos, perogies, smokies, deep-fried favourites, and more. The food concessions open at 6 p.m.
The concert is absolutely free, but there will be raffle tickets available for a variety of gift baskets, as well as a silent auction for a luxury sturgeon fishing trip on the Fraser River valued at $1,350. All funds raised from the raffle and auction, as well as any donations, will be going to benefit the Lytton Fire Department, which lost its fire hall and most of its equipment in the Lytton fire on June 30, 2021. “We were originally talking with Honour Ranch,” says Lake, “but we thought there was a greater need for Lytton in light of last year’s event.”
The lead sponsor of the event is Interior Savings, and Lake says that the production company that was in Ashcroft in early 2020 filming an episode of The Twilight Zone also kicked in some money that is going toward the concert.
Lake says that Gallant — a Canadian Country Music Association Spotlight winner — was set to headline in 2020 as well, before the concert was postponed.
“I’ve met him at different times, and he came to Ashcroft as a solo act and I was blown away. I’ve seen him at other venues with his full band, most recently in Merritt earlier this year.
“When I hear Cory’s voice I think ‘How is this guy not more famous?’ He has a real 1990s country sound, a combination of Tim McGraw and Luke Combs.”
Lake feels that the Country in the Park concert is something people could do with right now.
“We need to get outside, get some fresh air, and get a sense of community. I think this is a good opportunity to do that.”
A Country in the Park website with full details of the event, including information about the artists, where to listen to their music, and how to donate to the Lytton Fire Department if you can’t attend the event, can be found at https://bit.ly/3d1FGxr.