Bashaw was in the musical spotlight Saturday as hundreds gathered in the winning community for Small Town Saturday Night celebrations.
By Saturday afternoon, all 1,000 tickets were sold for the nighttime main-event country music concert, which featured Chad Brownlee in the Bashaw Arena, said organizer Jackie Northey.
“This is an amazing gift from Big Valley Jamboree and Travel Alberta,” said Ben Wilson, also a member of the Bashaw committee.
“It shows how united we are as a community and how much people have connections to Bashaw.”
Organizers of the provincial contest echoed those sentiments.
“Congratulations on your very impressive entry,” said Larry Werner of the Big Valley Jamboree, which ran the contest with Travel Alberta.
Highlighted in the contest video entry, cast members from Bashaw’s Beauty and the Beast production entertained during an afternoon of family entertainment at the Bashaw School grounds. An afternoon mini-concert drew more than 350 people to the Bashaw Community Centre.
“The moment our team viewed the video, we knew that Bashaw set the bar very high and was in the competition to win it,” Werner said.
Money raised was allocated for Bashaw School’s new arts-infusion program.
“It’s amazing how the community has supported this school program, with all their donations,” said Mikayla Allan, a Grade 10 student.
Town leaders credited the Bashaw region or its great support.
“Isn’t this a most wonderful day,” Mayor Penny Shantz said. “This is Bashaw in all its community spirit.”
The mayor of a neighbouring community also commended the community for its strong support.
“For a community the size of Bashaw, with a population of 873, to win the contest … speaks volumes about the spirit and support they have,” said Town of Stettler Mayor Dick Richards.
Events like the “Small Town” contest reflect the character of Bashaw, said a longtime resident.
“It’s a friendly community and everyone who moves here is always pleased with that warm welcome,” Mel Radke said.
An acoustic performance last Saturday afternoon warmed up fans for the Small Town Saturday Night concert at the Bashaw Arena.
“This was really good — a great warm-up for tonight — I am looking forward to the concert,” said Suzanne Czarnecki of Rimbey.
Country fans from near and far packed the Bashaw Community Centre to enjoy performances by Nashville recording artists Clayton Bellamy and Bobby Wills, and the talents of young up-and-coming female stars Alee and Tenille.
All four are home-grown Alberta entertainers with a talent for song writing. They shared their creative craft in an intimate small-town setting that gave participants a one-on-one feeling.
“This is like one big awesome living room and you’re the reason we are here,” Tenille said before one of her songs.
The foursome encouraged the audience participation and had them clapping, singing, laughing at times and for one of Wills’ songs, he told the audience to “get your woo-woo on” and sing along.
The stars spoke with the crowd, sharing the stories behind the songs and the real-life experiences that inspired them to write the lyrics.
Love and heartache, leaving home, kids, trucks, fear and dreams, prayer and inspiration, respect — and even crows — made their way into the country songs the artists wrote.
“If you can live it, it can be a country song,” seemed to be the rule.
Richard Froese and Les Stulberg