Wednesday, 18 July 2012 14:36

Shaunavon area's Frenchman River Gospel Jamboree gets some renos

Written by  Jessi Gowan
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This year's 21st Annual Frenchman River Gospel Jam might seem a bit different than the jamboree has for the past 20 years, but the festival will continue to provide the southwest with wonderful music and a gospel message for hopefully years to come.


“You just reach a time when you say that this needs to continue on, it’s a viable event that’s happening, but we need to make some changes to keep it fresh,” admitted JJ Hunter, one of the event organizers and performers. “We met as a board, and discussed with different parties and with the community, and made changes at pretty much every level.”
This year’s event will be held at a new venue — the Crescent Point Wickenheiser Center, in Shaunavon. The dates of the festival have also changed, from the end of June to the beginning of August.
Even the festival format has changed. Instead of a three-day event, the jamboree offers a ticketed concert on Friday night featuring the Gatlin Brothers, free music all day on Saturday, and then a church service on Sunday morning.
“This way, we were able to bring in a headliner group for Friday night, to show a group that’s maybe a bit more exciting,” Hunter noted. “We’ll have a full concert that night, with some great openers, and most of those performers will be showcased on Saturday, as well.”
The event will also feature an illusionist, offering a bit more than just musical entertainment. Internationally acclaimed illusionist Lou Leventhal will make a cameo on Friday night, and then will perform his full show on Saturday. Saturday night will also feature a youth concert.
“We are really excited, the response so far has been very positive,” said Hunter. “You never know when you make changes like this how things will wind up, but we felt that this was something important for the Southwest and it was time to bring in some new life. Progression is a vital part of maintaining interest.”
Hunter has been a part of the festival for as long as he can remember, and in the past couple of years has joined the board and gotten involved in the organizing aspect of the event. He noted the jamboree has always been a highlight of his summers, and he is excited to be able to continue that tradition.
“There is just such an incredible quality of music here that often you’d have to travel to a larger venue to see, and there’s a variety here that is appealing to people,” he admitted.
“If you don’t like one band, chances are you might like the next one. Some groups are more traditional, some are more country-style, and some are chosen to appeal to teens. There really is something for everyone, and as a family-friendly event, that’s important for us.”
The festival is also reasonably priced, with Friday night tickets only $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Tickets are available online at www.frgj.ca, where you can also find more information about the performers and the festival. Saturday’s lineup from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. is completely free, as is the service on Sunday.
“For anyone who has been to an outdoor music festival, you know it’s a great chance for interaction and fellowship,” added Hunter. “People will be there from lots of other communities, so you can see people you might not see regularly. It really is a great event for the whole family to participate in.”

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