Friday, 26 April 2013

Preview: Manitoba Country Festivals

Talk about a memory machine – summer festivals are classic, but never really get old. And Manitoba is full of them. Since it's already spring (says the calendar, at least), here is an overview of what to look forward to once (or if ) this snow ever melts. 

Dauphin's Countryfest (June 27-30)

You got it! According to its website, Dauphin's Countryfest is Canada's Longest Running Country Music Festival. It's certainly the biggest and best Manitoba has to offer. With this year's star-studded lineup, it's like moving Nashville out to Timbuktu! Performers include Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Thompson Square, Dierks Bentley, and Kip Moore, to name a few, plus Canadian acts like Dean Brody, High Valley, and Emerson Drive. However, weekend passes already sold out within 12 hours in November. Some other attractions include a mechanical bull, sports bar, Countryfest Beach, and poker tournament. The festival has even created a multi-platform mobile app for 2013. Check out for more info.

Red River EX (June 14-23)

Of course, Winnipeg's Red River EX isn't exclusively a "country" festival. But it's got all of the standards – mini doughnuts, candy apples, cotton candy...did I mention rides? This event probably has the best selection of midway rides locally. And if you need a little more adrenaline, there's a new ride featured this year called Mach 3. Concerts have not been announced yet, but some of last year's were Jason McCoy, Dallas Smith, and of course, the amazing Carly Rae Jepsen. Learn more at

Summer in the City Festival (June 14-16) 

2013 will be the milestone fifth year of this weekend event, taking place in the downtown of Manitoba's third-largest city. Gord Bamford will be the main country headliner, with opening acts yet to be announced. With a multitude of tents and vendors lined up along Main Street, this young festival feels friendly, busy, and vibrant. Learn more at 

Niverville Olde Tyme Country Fair (June 7-8)

No Dean Brody this year, but as the name suggests, Niverville Olde Tyme Country Fair is one of the most genuinely country festivals around. With a large car show and an impressive small-town midway, it's kind of old-fashioned – in a good way. And the Blackout Fireworks (promised to be more spectacular than ever) are actually quite impressive against a Prairie sky. This year's top performers include Aaron Pritchett and Charlie Major. Visit for details.

Hanover Ag Fair (August 15-18)

This is festival is also very traditional and relaxed, with a uniquely welcoming atmosphere. It takes place on a fairgrounds in Grunthal (southwest of Steinbach), and usually features a major Canadian country act (to be announced). Last year was Shane Yellowbird, and before that, High Valley. But the rodeo is the real kicker, which was actually named the best of 2012 by the Manitoba Rodeo Cowboys Association. The fair's website is

Manitoba Stampede & Exhibition (July 18-21)

The Morris event isn't centred so much around music, but contains a big rodeo and turns 50 years old in 2013. Manitoba acts Jason Kirkness, Jason Petric, and Frannie Klein will be performing too, and there are a number of side activities, including a youth talent content. You can look it up at

I know there are many more great Manitoba country events, and if you'd like to add your favourite to the list, feel free to do so below. There's something about the smell of concession stand food, spending an evening wandering a fairgrounds, and getting dizzy from riding the Skymaster that just feels right. I can't wait to hit up some awesome festivals this year, and wish you an excellent country summer!

Photo by Cody Goetz, courtesy of