“I’m going to cram it all in and sleep later!”
That’s Candace Finch’s game plan when it comes to PotashCorp Country Music Week in Saskatoon. Finch volunteers with the Saskatchewan Country Music Association but this week, she’s taking time off to be a fan.
“I love everything about country music,” says Finch. “It’s not the stereotypical my wife left me and my dog ran away. This music is real life, it’s the backroads, it’s Canada.” Finch is among the thousands of people expected to flood Saskatoon over the next four days.
“People are excited about the whole week. They remember how up close and personal they can get with their favourite musicians,” says event chair Dawn Woroniuk. “They have a chance to head out to Fanfest and get that autograph, they PVR the awards show and pick themselves out of the crowd and all the way through, they get to hear some amazing music.”
The Canadian Country Music Awards last landed in Saskatoon in 2012. That week set records for audience attendance and huge international acts like Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert attending the awards show. Woroniuk attributes the success in 2012 to the local businesses and fans that got behind it.
“People here are very welcoming. They remember the excitement that 2012 brought.” Woroniuk explains, “The last time we hosted, it had a huge economic impact on the city. Saskatoon has grown since then and we have a bunch of new businesses, restaurants and music venues that are eager to get in on the action.”
Over the course of the weekend organizers say they expect around 10,000 musicians, industry people and music fans to take part in the week’s festivities. That means big possibilities for local businesses. Jim Beck owns Rock Creek Tap and Grill in Saskatoon. He got in on the excitement early by presenting local musicians as part of the Original 16 Country Concert Series.
“The Canadian Country Music Awards is all about national recognition and we’ve had a great response from country music fans,” says Beck. “Each of the artists we present bring their own fans with them as well as draw new people to the shows. We’ve been proud to have these shows pack our patio and restaurant.”
Another business ready to serve the country crowd is Cowtown. The western apparel and tack shop’s manager Toni Ross says they are bracing for big crowds and big sales.
“People come in ready to spend a lot of money to dress up for these events,” she says. “When Garth Brooks was here, our store was packed with people. We’re ready this week.”
Sold out hotel rooms, full restaurants and busy streets are a beautiful sight for Todd Brandt. As the president and CEO of Tourism Saskatoon he knows what a high profile event like the Canadian Country Music Awards can do for a city in the long term.
“It’s a track record. We have an opportunity to go beyond and bid for the next event.” Brandt explains, “We want people out there to understand that Saskatoon is not just a quiet little city. That it’s a dynamic one with lots of live entertainment and cultural activities. The CCMA’s is just another stepping stone towards positioning our destination.”
For Candace Finch, this week isn’t about dollars and cents, it’s about the experience. She’s excited to see big names like Patricia Conroy, Dean Brody and Chad Brownlee.
“How can you not like the fact that music stars are going to be walking our streets?” She says, “It’s truly a community event where the red carpet is rolled out and Saskatchewan hospitality is at its highest.”
Click here for full details and information on how to get tickets.
PotashCorp Country Music Week
September 7 – 10, 2017
Various Venues throughout Saskatoon