Onstage and off, entertainment at the Salmon Arm Fair scored an A-plus.
On Monday morning, a tired but elated Lori Risling said she an husband Gil, entertainment co-organizer, agreed 2017 was a very good year at the fair – on both stages.
“It was so good, we were happy with everything,” says Lori. “Everybody seemed really happy; the entertainers were thrilled to be performing here and we had really good crowds for everyone, even when it rained.”
As always, Adam Fitzpatrick’s Elvis was the biggest draw, with large crowds extending beyond the shelter of the food court tent.
“He was here about seven years ago when he was just starting out,” says Lori, noting that he had just signed on to the Louisiana Hayride and has since developed a fondness for Salmon Arm and the annual fair. “Several people said they came to the fair just to hear him.”
Lori also gave kudos to popular repeats Kelly and Blu Hopkins, Dale Seaman and Highway 97 and said the audience and the Métis community were enthusiastic about the Métis Jiggers, who shared their culture through dance.
Another favourite was the Dirt Road Opera comprised of Barry Mathers and Jim Ryan, formerly of Canadian country rock band The Cruzeros and Rachel Matkin.
While there was no Shuswap Idol this year, several former winners were invited to perform 15-minute sets on their own on the main stage.
“What I offered as an alternative was Shuswap Shine and every one of the former idols was thrilled,” she says of Shaugnessy Rose, Emily Strandebo, Elizabeth Joy, Shelley Desautels and Jan Parada. “They practised their acts and performed like they wanted to be there,”
Lori also made mention of Jesse Mast and Megan Abel who have continued making music their careers.
As the organizer of both Shuswap Idol and the general entertainment at the fair, Lori says she simply did not have enough time to commit to the competition.
“People don’t understand how much work goes into it, the hours spent organizing and wondering if you’ll get enough contestants,” she says, noting the popular Louisiana Hayride shows continue to ride with ever expanding tour schedules. “We are going to do Shuswap Idol again, we’re just going to find someone else to take over, someone else to do the organizing and I will give the time slot (on stage) to whoever takes it over.”
Catching their collective breaths on Monday morning, the pair were getting ready to leave for Victoria this week for the Louisiana Hayride’s first tour of Vancouver Island.
Fans of the show will be happy to hear the Hayride gang will return to Salmon Arm with a Christmas show on Nov. 27 at the Salmar Classic Theatre, where Jesse Mast will open the show and DJ Patrick Ryley will appear as Hank Williams.
Mast will also join the show for the Okanagan tour that continues on to Vernon, Lake Country and Oliver and includes regulars Gil, William Brookfield, Mike Melnichuk and Andrea Anderson.
Tickets for the Nov. 27 Christmas show will be available at Touch ‘a Texas in the Mall at Piccadilly and Wearabouts on Alexander Street.