Wednesday, 09 March 2016 16:44

2016 Quonset Days tries to top 2015 event with another stellar line-up of performers

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Quonset Days has been a huge hit which has grown in popularity the last number of years. Quonset Days has been a huge hit which has grown in popularity the last number of years. File photo

It never gets old for the Biemans family and their amazing Quonset Days fundraiser which is held in their family’s farmyard near Seven Persons in support of the ALS Society of Alberta.

The formula is simple: bring in some top-notch entertainment, charge a fair ticket price, host an auction of donated items, invite as many people as possible, and let everyone have a great time.
Organizer Trevor Biemans made the announcement March 3 live on a Medicine Hat radio station about the July 22-23 line-up. The performers include country artists Kira Isabella, Bobby Wills and rockers Econoline Crush.
Janet Biemans was thrilled at the line-up this year.
“When choosing bands, there are a few things we consider. Do they fit our budget, have they played in this area in the last few years, are they Canadian (whenever possible) and are they a good fit for what we are doing,” explains Janet. “All three headliners fall into each category perfectly. Last year, we brought in Glorious Sons to shake things up a bit and bring in people that wouldn’t normally come to a ‘country’ event. We found that those that came for the rock stayed for the country. Feedback was very positive so we decided to try it again this year by bringing in Econoline Crush. We expect Econoline Crush to have a very high energy show and that’s how we like to kick off Quonset Days.
“Kira Isabella and Bobby Wills will take us back to our country roots and we expect their shows to be outstanding as well. Everything we have heard about our headliners has been great so we expect our weekend to be high energy and an amazing time.”
Isabella, a native of Ottawa, earned a Juno nomination for the 2015 Country Album of the Year. As well, Isabella’s Quarterback landed at No. 25 on Spin Magazine’s 101 Best Songs of 2014 list and has been playing a lot of concerts.
Wills and Econoline Crush are also known nationally and will draw fans from outside the region.
After the ALS Walk in Medicine Hat folded, Janet and her children decided to host a concert in their Seven Persons’ farmyard and coined the Quonset Days term in the spirit of family patriarch Peter Biemans who passed away of the disease. Peter had played an infamous joke on his urban co-workers talking about his farm’s ‘quonset’ which ironically the Biemans didn’t have.
The first Quonset Days was in 2010 following the death of Janet’s husband in August of 2009. Quonset Day’s winning formula is simple, the work that goes into it, is not.
There is a lot of effort put in by the Biemans and the volunteers but for them, it’s all worth it.
“Last year, we made about $61,000 bringing our overall total to $200,800,” says Janet of the jaw-dropping numbers. “We have become the number one third-party fundraiser in Alberta for the ALS Society of Alberta. All of the money we raise stays in Alberta and that’s how we like it. It is Albertans helping Albertans.”
According to the ALS Society of Alberta website: “(Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a rapid, always fatal, neurodegenerative disease. It attacks the nerves the body would normally use to send messages from the brain to the muscle, resulting in weakness and wasting. Eventually, the individual with ALS is left completely immobilized, with loss of speech and eventually an inability to swallow and breathe.”
Quonset Days is based on family tradition and when a person attends Quonset Days once, that person is “family.”
Besides Econoline Crush, Wills and Isabella, a big part of the weekend is the local talent. The true “house bands” Phoenix and the Chevelles are well known in southern Alberta and have been mainstays of the Quonset event. It’s important for the Biemans to have them for the Seven Persons fundraiser.
“We love having the Chevelles play at Quonset Days. They are such a great group of guys,” explains Biemans. “A few years ago, they had to miss playing due to scheduling conflicts, but we have been lucky enough to have them ever since. Phoenix has been with us from the very beginning. We can’t say enough about this group. They go above and beyond in their support for what we do. While we try to change and improve Quonset Days every year, having these two bands support us and return year after year is amazing.”
The crowds have been large and growing every year, but with this year’s devastated economy, there may be a fear numbers may go down. Biemans explains they will do the best they can and try to be fair as possible with tickets and pricing.
“There is always a concern that numbers might not be as high as other years, but we try to keep our gate prices as low as possible,” says Biemans. “Our goal each year is to break even and anything above that is a huge bonus. We have been very lucky over the years to have big bonuses.”
There have been changes and improvements over the years to improve the experience. Biemans notes one of the biggest things people probably noticed was the new “quonset” bar. They built it in a way that not only makes the serving area almost twice the size of past years, they are able to acknowledge sponsors on the front of the bar. These sponsors also became bartenders for a few hours.
Another change they made last year was to hire a security firm. It isn’t that they had problems in past years, but felt with the crowds getting larger it was something they needed to do. 
“In the past, we did all the security ourselves and by the end of the weekend we realized we missed a lot of the fun because we couldn’t relax,” explains Biemans. “Passing the security on to the professionals let us relax a bit. We are always looking for ways to make Quonset Days better. More changes are happening this year with new vendors and possibly a new building.”
Pre-purchased ticket prices are as follows and are now available on the website at:
For Friday, July 22, the price is $30 and for Sat., July 23, $45. The total weekend is $60. If people buy at the gate add $5 to each of the previously-listed ticket prices.

Read 3982 times Last modified on Thursday, 17 March 2016 09:25
Ryan Dahlman

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