Country concert victory boosts ‘community spirit,’ says mayor

Bashaw showed again last week that it’s a small town capable of big achievements.

Bashaw showed again last week that it’s a small town capable of big achievements. In town and in the neighbouring communities, anyone connected with Bashaw was beaming with pride Wednesday as it was named the winner of the Small Town Saturday Night contest.

“I was surprised for the amount of votes that Bashaw received from the community and surrounding area — that was awesome,” said Crystal Butler, an employee at Bashaw Groceries.

“Lots of people across the counter today are talking about it all day — they’re very excited.”

Butler is a resident of Ferintosh, a proud neighbour of Bashaw just a few kilometres north on Highway 21.

Bashaw outdid six other communities to win the right to host a country music concert April 27 at the Bashaw Arena in association with the Big Valley Jamboree, set for Camrose in August.

“Our entire community and supporters pulled together in a truly collaborative and caring way,” said Jackie Northey, a member of the Bashaw organizing committee.

“We had lots of residents participating and the social-media campaign was strong, and we had so many residents who called their family and friends from all over the province and daily reminded them to vote for Bashaw.”

Along with a $5,000 donation toward local educational programs, Bashaw also gains the proceeds from the concert and activities during the Saturday celebrations at the end of April.

Last year, winner Legal raised $93,000.

Bashaw residents say the contest and concert will further boost the community spirit.

“”It’s a wonderful opportunity for Bashaw and the programs that will benefit from funding,” said Bashaw Mayor Penny Shantz.

“It will be a community-building experience — it does build community spirit and enthusiasm and it will be a fun day at the concert.”

She further congratulated the bid committee organizers and those who supported Bashaw and local programs.

The concert has already generated anticipation for young and old alike.

“It will be a wonderful expansion of the school’s (arts-) infusion program,” said Cassandra Westfall, who’s a Grade 12 student at Bashaw School, which was active in the Small Town campaign.

“It will be a lot of fun for everyone.”

The school’s arts-infusion program develops skills in visual media, marketing and leadership. It’s expected to be one of the beneficiaries of the prize money.

Northey said plans would take shape in the coming weeks for a full day of fun for the entire family. Plenty of volunteers will be required, she said.

“We are so grateful for the vision and generosity of Big Valley Jamboree, Travel Alberta and all the sponsors who recognized the value of supporting rural Alberta.”

The provincial tourism minister also plans to attend the Bashaw concert.

“I look forward to joining the celebration for an incredible show that the people of Bashaw will never forget,” said Tourism, Parks and Agriculture Minister Richard Starke.

Officially, the contest winner will be recognized next Tuesday at the Travel Alberta Growing Rural Tourism conference in Camrose.