After almost two decades away from home, the Hank Snow Tribute is coming back to Queens County.
"It was always meant to be held in Hank's home town," says Kelly Inglis, manager of the Hank Snow museum and one of the organizers of the tribute.
Though many of the events are similar to what people know and love, moving an entire festival to a new location is no easy feat.
"Everything is new and challenging," says volunteer and organizer Charlotte White.
RV camping spots, an essential part of the festival, needed to be made, and they had to figure out how to get people back and forth to the venue. Then there was the venue itself, Queens Place Emera Centre.
The main reason the tribute is even able to come back though is because of Queens Place. Queens County had held the tribute before, first in Summerville and later at the Queens County Fair Grounds, but it outgrew both spots. At the time there were no other venues in the county large enough to accommodate the burgeoning festival.
It is however much different than their Bridgewater location. Inglis and White are confident though that people will be pleasantly surprised with the way things turn out.
RV camping is an essential part of the festival, filling the Bridgewater Fair Grounds in previous years. To accommodate the campers close to the venue, the Hank Snow Museum and the Region of Queens Municipality have prepared several acres around the museum with fill and trimming back bushes.
Though officially the camping cannot start until Thursday, Inglis says expect to see RV's lined up early this week.
Though not right on the grounds of Queens Place, the RV'ers will be close to the dumping station, various amenities, and be just 600 paces away between the camping and the venue. The tribute is also running a shuttle back and forth between the two locations.
To help direct people, the tribute is putting up signs in all directions on the highways to direct people to the venues and the museum.
What to expect
The festival will certainly get off to a roaring start on Thursday, when country legend and Port Medway born singer Carroll Baker takes the stage.
"It's the first time we've really tried to have an opening bang," says Inglis.
That alone has generated excitement she says, but there is plenty of other talent taking the stage that night as well. Naomi Bristo from Ontario is one to particularly watch. Inglis says she sings old country and yodels, has been on Canada's Got Talent and opened for Vince Gill. She says it will be a surprise for people how good she will be.
Friday night sees a new event with the Youth Competition, being put together by Kevin Page and Michelle Colp. The fan favourite Open Mic also returns earlier in the day, from 1 to 4 p.m. The winner each year gets a spot in next year's line up, and last year's winner Foulton Bayer will play Saturday morning.
The night will be capped off with Ryan Cook playing two sets. One set will be his own music, and the other a set of old favourites backed up by the Rainbow Ranch Boys, members of Hank Snow's old band.
Saturday is probably the biggest day in terms of entertainment, starting at 9 a.m. and going late into the night. It is the day they see the most attendance, and pay tribute to Hank Snow's legacy.
"It's really the core tribute day to Hank Snow. Every group is asked to play a couple of Hank Snow songs during their set," says Inglis.
Other popular events include the Songwriter's Circle with Joyce Seamone, Guitar Picken' Contest, and Sounds like Hank Contest.
Sunday is when everything wraps up, and to celebrate the tribute returning home the concerts are free to the public. Inglis and White says this is because they want as many people in the community as they can get to try out the festival and see how it has grown over the years. Sunday is also when the performers come together to do the Big Jam with the Rainbow Ranch Boys to close out the day.
Something new this year is the community suppers during the tribute. Patrons don't have to go to the tribute or hold tickets, but rather it is another way to raise money for the museum. In previous years the museum has run a canteen, however Queens Place already operates its own. Instead the organizers decided to host two nights of community suppers.
Friday is a Roast Beef Supper from 4-6 p.m., at $10 per person. Saturday is Baked Bean Supper, also 4-6 p.m. at $7 per person.
The tribute is still looking for a few last minute volunteers as well, mostly ushers says White. Anyone interested can contact the Hank Snow Museum for more information at 354-4675. A full schedule of events can also be found on the website.