PROVIDENCE BAY—The highly successful Bluegrass in the Country concert weekend is coming up fast with the Providence Bay Fairgrounds set to become a bluegrass mecca from June 10 to 12.
Manitoulin Special Olympics’ largest fundraiser for the year, Bluegrass in the Country has put Manitoulin Island, and Providence Bay, on the map for a foot stompin’, finger pickin’ good time.
On Friday, June 10, the First Nations group SweetGrass, hailing from the Alderville First Nation (‘A bluegrass band with an edge,’ their website touts), will get the weekend going in style. Lead vocalist Ginny McIlmoyle is a treat and has recorded in Nashville for many years.
Some might remember Friday night’s next act Marie Bottrell from her trip to Gore Bay a few years ago with her Patsy Cline tribute act.
“If you like ‘old tyme country,’ be sure to come out and see her,” Bluegrass in the Country organizer John Featherstone urges.
Bluegrass in the Country favourites the Canucky Bluegrass Boys of Sudbury will close out the Friday night show. “They’ve been with is since the start—they’re almost our house band,” Mr. Featherstone laughed.
On Saturday, June 11 The Nelson Family of Princeton, Ontario will begin the day’s musical proceedings. “This will be their first appearance at a major festival,” Mr. Featherstone boasted.
Island perennial bluegrass favourites Jim Beech and Ben Lentir will also take to the Bluegrass in the Country stage Saturday.
Ryme ‘n’ Reason of the Niagara region are “long time bluegrass favourites,” Mr. Featherstone said. The group has multiple bluegrass award nominations to their name, including male vocalist of the year.
“They’re the guys that are going to whet the appetite of the really hard core bluegrassers,” he added.
Manitoulin Special Olympics supporter Robbie Shawana will also entertain the masses with his amazing talent on Saturday.
Weekend headliners The Abrams are a fourth generation group making their living on the road as bluegrass musicians, Mr. Featherstone shared. “They are the youngest musicians ever to make an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage and will take the Providence Bay stage at 7:30 pm.”
Saturday night closes with the ever-popular open jam session, “which is a real crowd pleaser,” Mr. Featherstone assures.
Many of Manitoulin’s Special Olympians have been practicing hard for the Saturday of Bluegrass in the Country too when they will showcase their newfound skills as square dancers led by Tehkummah caller Fred Hunter. Manitoulin Special Olympic national snowshoe champions Matthew Bedard and Kelsey Mellan will also be honoured on stage, recognizing their trip to the world games next year on Team Canada.
Be sure to admire the decorating talent of Manitoulin’s Red Hat ladies, who take great pride in sprucing up the fairgrounds for the annual fundraising event.
Sunday, June 12 will see a free two-hour gospel session beginning at 10 am and mark the close of what will undoubtedly be another successful Bluegrass in the Country event.
Camping is available on-site and there will be plenty of vendors at the festival too.
For tickets call 705-282-8158 or 705-282-0368 or visit www.bluegrassinthecountry.net.