PROVIDENCE BAY—After a long, cold and quiet winter, residents of Providence Bay were wondering what all the hubbub was about seeing excess traffic on Thursday and Friday of last week. One quick trip to the fairgrounds told the tale as it was quickly filling with assorted travel trailers and vendors looking for action during the annual Bluegrass in the Country event.
The event was kicked off by “Brother John” Featherstone offering tremendous thanks to the support of local business on the Island and North Shore. [pullquote]“We had a larger crowd for Friday night than we have had for any night in other years and the Saturday crowd was larger than that. There were 75 trailers, the first year we had eight. The total crowd was one-third more than ever before.” boasted the proud host.”[/pullquote]
Funds raised at this event will assist five athletes in going to the National Games in Vancouver in July. They will represent Special Olympics Ontario with a chance to qualify to represent Canada at the World Games in Los Angeles in 2015. Although it was not a planned event for John and Crissy Leeson of St. George, they have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The simple act of putting their names in a draw at a bluegrass event in southern Ontario secured their seats to the local and burgeoning fundraiser. “It has been a great weekend!” exclaimed Ms. Leeson.
In preparation for the weekend, some of the athletes worked diligently on a surprise for the show. Event coordinators were very tight-lipped about what was planned but every “step” was revealed to the crowed as guests returned after a break. Robbie Shawana and his band were ready on the stage when Tyler Madahbee introduced well-known Island square dance caller Fred Hunter and some of his friends and Special Olympians who had worked over the previous five weeks with Mr. Hunter and wife Carolyn to learn a couple of square dances for the audience. With a few familiar fiddle tunes from Doug Hore, the dancers commenced whirling around in front of the stage. Their performance was greeted with more applause than any band over the weekend event.
Weekend entertainment was provided by a total of eight bands, with Sweet Grass kicking off the Friday night show, followed by a local group of musicians, Rick Piché and the Hawberry Boys. Hard Ryde, winners of several Central Canadian Bluegrass awards, The Algoma Wildflowers, The Allen Family Reunion, Rescue Junction and The Canucky Bluegrass Boys, who will happily say that they have attended all of the five years the event has been running.
The residents of Providence Bay will now let the dust settle and go back to the quiet streets to await the next summer activity.