By Nikki Jamieson
Westwind Weekly News
The Raymond Music Festival is back for another year. On tap for Aug. 28, the festival will be a day-long event that will see local musicians perform at Victoria Park. “It’s a platform or venue where talent can shine,” said Shaun Cahoon, festival organizer.
“I’m an outsider, having moved into southern Alberta with relatives nearby still, but I was just amazed at the top-notch level of talent we have. Cory (Ramussen, festival organizer) and I were just convinced we needed to get these people a stage.”
“It’s to get people onstage that can perform, and have an audience look and see who is in their local area that has a performance level,” said Ramussen. While the audition process for the festival is now over, when they spoke to the paper last week, they are looking at having about 20 musicians and 11 bands perform for the event, a sharp increase from last year, which saw 18 musicians and three bands.
To accommodate the range of talent, they are planning to host a full day of acts.
Ramussen said they were excited about the level of interest they’ve received, adding “the show’s full.” Uniquely, the event came around during the pandemic, with 2020 being the first year of the festival. Organizers were able to keep spectators socially-distanced during the event, and alternatively people were able to view the different performances over live-stream, as well. Care was also taken to keep each group of performers separate.
“Last year, we were the only show in town,” said Ramussen, noting events normally held at that time of year were cancelled or greatly reduced.
“We were watching the different (restrictions) that were being shared by the government, and luckily, I feel we did mostly fulfill all the restrictions put on us.” “We had the support of the town, and we had some bands that were very proficient, and they were working the circuit, so there were bands that would play at the casino and different places in Lethbridge. They knew their stuff, so when people came, they were getting a good show,” said Ramussen. “We’re not the rebellious type; we just saw there might be some light, and we were really looking for it, and we went towards it, and we just continued going through it, and we did it.” A lot of volunteer work had also gone into the show, with people coming in early to set up everything and do sound.
The live-stream had also allowed them to reach a wider audience than they could accommodate in the stadium, including those who couldn’t travel to see the show.
This year, as people are getting vaccinated and the province is re-opening for the summer, they have high hopes for the festival. Last year, Ramussen said they didn’t advertise the event, as they didn’t want to have a whole lot of people turn up and having to turn them away or have authorities fining or shutting them down. While they are hoping they can proceed as planned this year, they are also preparing for any public health measures that may be in place.
“We’re hoping – as our premier has talked about, (Dr. Hinshaw) has also speculated – that towards the end of the summer, which Aug. 28 is, it will be open for things,” said Ramussen. “We’re planning for that, and the bands are well aware of that – practising and getting ready.” “We want to get some music out in the air.
It’s very therapeutic, and I think a lot of people need to hear some of that, and we can provide it with just the talent around us.” Cahoon said they will have 10 cameras they will be positioning around the venue, compared to four last year.
Bruce Stribbell will be taking care of sound, Barbara Nalder will be handling local talent, and Takarra Roach will be handling the social media and marketing for the festival. Food trucks will be coming in to provide refreshments to attendees, as well. Attendees are asked to respect any health restrictions in place at the time of the festival.
Ticket information will be released at a later date. With on-site, health restrictions allowing, and online tickets for live-streaming planned to be available. If weather doesn’t allow for an outdoor event, it will be moving to the arena. For more information, visit www. facebook.com/RaymondMusicFestival