Wednesday, 20 July 2016 11:35

Quonset Days a growing tribute to a fun-loving guy

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Setting up for 2014's show. Setting up for 2014's show. Contributed

The July 22-23 Quonset Days are nothing short of amazing for all of those involved.

Anyone who has made the trek to the Biemans’ property near the small community of Seven Persons know the infectious enthusiasm the “Greatest Outdoor Party on Dirt” can have.
No one knows this better than Janet Biemans, who started Quonset Days in 2010 as a tribute to her late husband Peter Biemans who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and passed away in August 2009.
All revenue generated from the previous concerts have gone to the ALS Society of Canada.
The first concert garnered $7,500 and combined with subsequent concerts, approximately $230,000 has been raised.
Since then the likes of Jason Blaine (2015); Julian Austin and Aaron Pritchett (2014); Adam Gregory (2013), Jay Bowcott (2011-2013) and Phoenix (every year) have graced the stage.
Quonset Days 2016 has an impressive line up with July 22 opening with rockers The Chevelles (7:30 p.m.) and Econoline Crush (9:30 p.m.). On July 23, Phoenix (5 p.m.), rising star Kira Isabella (7:30 p.m.), and Bobby Wills (10:30 p.m.). They will hit the stage on the Biemans farm which is southwest of Seven Persons on Range Road 81.
For Janet, it’s always an exciting time leading up to the event.
“We never know from one year to the next how successful Quonset Days will be, we just know that everyone that comes has a good time and always seem to come back year after year,” explains Biemans.  “With the economy the way it is right now we can’t be sure of the amount we will raise. Since we started we have never set a goal for the dollar figure we want to hit, we just want to pay our expenses and be able to give the ALS Society of Alberta as much support as possible. The longer we do this the more organized we get. We have a master schedule that we tweak a bit each year to improve things. The two weeks prior to the event can get a little hectic but we have some great volunteers that help us out to get everything done.”
Besides the concerts there will be live and silent auctions with an impressive list of items on tap. See the Quonset Days’ Facebook page for an up-to-date list.
There will also be a beer gardens and free camping although they remind people this is a private yard not a campground. After parking a trailer, people are not allowed to “camp” until July 22. No fires or fireworks are allowed. Propane barbecues are allowed; but there is not a lot of room as they state they park the trailers close together to fit in as many as possible.
“Something everyone will notice is that there will be an office on site this year. We are hoping this will make it easier for everyone purchasing auction items. In past years we have had to spend several weeks collecting payment for auction purchases. Hopefully this will make things go a bit smoother,” she explains. “This was the first year we sold tickets through our website. Doing it ourselves allowed us to eliminate the handling fee ticket companies charge. It has seemed to work really well so we will be doing it again next year. In past years we had a live auction only on Saturday night. This year we will be holding it both nights. These auctions will include a VIP experience for eight lucky people each night. People will have to show up at Quonset Days to find out more.”
Besides the event modifications, one of the biggest changes the Biemans made was the formation of the Quonset Days board of directors. The family decided they just can’t do everything themselves anymore and “are thrilled with the people that volunteered to form this board.”
There is a lot more work, but the communication and organization has always been well done. It’s been a purely positive experience hence the attendance increases year after year.
“We have never had any negative feedback. If anything, people are very excited to be coming back year after year and they bring more people with them,” explains Biemans. “Once you come to Quonset Days you become part of our family and I think people like that about our event. It turns into a reunion for a lot of people. About the only thing people might not like is that we don’t allow anyone to save a camping spot —it’s a first come basis — and that they can’t bring their trailers out earlier than July 20.
“We have so much to do in the week leading up to Quonset Days that we just can’t have anyone walking around that might not be aware of what we are doing,” explains Biemans. “It takes some machinery to put up tents and fences and it is just too dangerous having spectators.
Biemans says they are hoping for about 1,000 people per day and it will go rain or shine so music fans need to be prepared for all types of weather. Since it is out in the country,  audiences are completely exposed to the elements. Fortunately, they have not had weather-related issues before and the chance of having to cancel the event all together is pretty slim. Biemans says the economy “might have a small impact” on the event but she won’t know until it’s all over. One indicator could be the 7th Annual Live Auction which will start at 9 p.m. July 23.
Biemans is proud of her family and all of her friends, the performers and volunteers.
“Someone asked me the other day if I had any idea Quonset Days would grow into what it has become. I can honestly say absolutely not,” Biemans says. “It seems to have taken on a mind of its own, but we certainly aren’t complaining. It is a lot of work, but it is also more fun than you can imagine. We get to meet so many people and build lasting relationships. It is worth every minute of lost sleep. I’m pretty sure our volunteers have lots of fun too since they keep asking to come back year after year to help out.
“We never imagined seven years ago something we planned in a week and have 150 people through the gate would blossom into an event that takes almost a year to plan and gets almost 1,000 people per day.”
Biemans adds her husband Peter would have loved to see what the event has become. Peter had originally pulled a prank on some urban co-workers he had by inviting them out to the farm for quonset races. As the story goes according to the website, “Peter’s ‘city’ friends couldn’t figure out what farmers did for fun. Peter and a coworker convinced them that once a year the farmers would take their quonsets, flip them upside down, race them down the irrigation canal and then have a big party after. The ‘city’ people thought that sounded like fun so made the drive from Lethbridge to see the races. Not wanting to disappoint them, Peter hosted the original Quonset Days party.  He made sure to point out to the ‘city’ people the size of the quonset and size of the canal.”
A good time and a party is something Peter enjoyed, as well as his family.
“We have always been a pretty close family. When Peter was diagnosed with ALS it seemed to bring us even closer. Quonset Days is always first and foremost a tribute to Peter,” Janet explains. “When we chose this type of event it was because it would have been something he would have loved going to. It is just a huge bonus that we are able to give back to the ALS Society of Alberta since they were so supportive during Peter’s fight. During the event we get a lot of people that knew Peter come up to us and say how much Peter would have enjoyed Quonset Days. That’s what it’s all about. After all, Peter held the first ever Quonset Days (a prank he pulled on some friends), we are just continuing what he started. We are the ‘Greatest Outdoor Party on Dirt!’”
Any further information can be found online at www.quonsetdays or by phoning 403-504-9537.

Read 10605 times Last modified on Wednesday, 20 July 2016 13:10
Ryan Dahlman

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