The festival may have started with rain on Thursday and Friday, but that didn’t stop 14,000 ticket holders and 1000 volunteers from making music memories at the 24th Dauphin’s Countryfest.
This year’s festival will go down in history as one of the most successful so far, with a record 12-hour sell-out of weekend passes back in November. Not bad for the ‘little festival that could’, which began with an audience of 500 locals in 1990. From those humble beginnings, Dauphin’s Countryfest has grown into the gold standard of country music events.
“Who’d have thought a little Manitoba town like Dauphin, with a population of 9000 people and located 200 miles from a major city, could carve an amphitheatre out of a hillside and turn it into one of the best country music festivals in North America,” says Eric Irwin, president of Dauphin’s Countryfest, who also happens to be the mayor of Dauphin.
“We create a small city each year at the festival site, with sewer service, water service, recycling service, security, first aid, and all the infrastructure a small city needs. Most impressive is that it’s all run by a volunteer board of directors.”
With Countryfest run as a non-profit organization, all profits go to community projects for the town of Dauphin, various community groups, and improvements to the festival site. In the past five years alone, Dauphin’s Countryfest has invested in a four-cinema multiplex, a new swimming pool, new hockey arena, splash park, skateboard park, and helped the local community foundation meet its $2 million goal.
Considering Countryfest boasts a larger population than most prairie towns, organizers are proud of the fact their festival operates with minimal trouble each year. “Given the amount of people who show up at a festival in such a short period of time, and the fact that festival goers like to kick back and enjoy themselves, there’s going to be issues. Countryfest is no exception to any other concert,” says Eric Irwin.
While Dauphin’s Countryfest has earned a reputation as a ‘party festival’ (which it is, and that’s what makes it half the fun!) it has also become known for attracting A-list country touring acts, and the best Canadian and roots artists. All who play Dauphin are seriously impressed once they experience the beautiful amphitheatre at the edge of Riding Mountain National Park, and its enthusiastic audience.
After their Countryfest debut, Florida Georgia Line informed festival manager Rob Waloschuk that Dauphin is one of the top three shows they’ve ever played, anywhere. Meanwhile, husband/wife duo Thompson Square tweeted that Countryfest “rocked their world” and ranked it among the “top five crowds.” And Carrie Underwood tweeted that it was a “great night in Dauphin” and “you guys are amazing.”
Canada’s longest running country music festival, Dauphin’s Countryfest celebrated its 24th anniversary June 27 to June 30, 2013. Tickets for this event sold out in a record-setting 12 hours.
Dauphin’s Countryfest was awarded the 2012 Philanthropist of the Year Award from The Dauphin & District Community Foundation, given to individuals or businesses that show the true spirit of philanthropy and giving.