Westerner Park celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2016 – so this year, we’re highlighting some of the annual events that have supported us over our long history in Red Deer. We have been the home of Canada’s Gospel Music Celebration, every summer for the past 18 years. This week, we spoke to festival organizer Wayne Dyck about the park’s amenities, his popular event and why they are a natural fit.
Gospel fan favourites
Every year, families travel from across the continent – coming from as far away as Florida, says Wayne – to hear high profile artists in southern gospel music and local Canadian acts as well. The next festival will gather at Westerner Park from July 13–17, 2017 to sing, sing, sing along with 16 Canadian and American groups, including many big name acts. In the past, headliners have included the Booth Brothers, Collingsworth Family, Greater Vision, Legacy Five and Triumphant Quartet.
Music all day
Fans and musicians alike begin their festival days at Morning Chapel in the Parkland Pavilion. According to Wayne, the inspiring morning performances, teachings and sing-alongs are a highlight of the weekend. During the day, festivalgoers listen to homegrown Canadian artist showcases in the Prairie Pavilion exhibition hall, where they can also meet their favourite groups and buy CDs, books and DVDs. Each evening is capped off with a 4½-hour concert at the ENMAX Centrium with 3,500 new friends in attendance each night.
A perfectly sized venue
Westerner Park is just the right size for his warm family-friendly festival – but, Wayne notes, it’s the perfect acoustics in the Centrium that are key for an event that revolves totally around music. He also says that Red Deer itself is an asset in drawing attendees – with its western hospitality, comfortable size and big city amenities, like great shopping and close recreational facilities.
Since the festival offers free admission for kids under 18, many attendees make this their family summer holiday and camp along the way. Wayne says that 400 motorhomes camp onsite at Westerner Park each year for the Gospel Celebration – and they keep coming back year after year. Maybe it’s because the park’s campground provides an easy, relaxed atmosphere with year-round, full-service spots that cater to this friendly enthusiastic crowd.
We look forward to seeing you July 13–17, 2017 for another beautiful rendition of Canada’s Gospel Music Celebration!