The South Country Fair is back to being a family affair. Not only because the people who attend the popular summer event in Fort Macleod at the Fish and Game Park consider themselves to be family, but because Maureen Chambers and her daughter Gillian Moranz book the acts.
“Jana McKenzie booked the south stage for as long as she could. I told her when she started that she could do it for as long as she felt comfortable doing it,” said Maureen Chambers, who helped found the festival some 33 years ago.
“Jana always stayed with ‘if it isn’t’ broken don’t fix it,’” Chambers said, noting nothing has changed this year.
The fair continues to be an event much of Lethbridge and southern Alberta looks forward to attending to escape from reality for a few days. Chambers noted they are keeping the capacity at a comfortable 2,000-3,000 attendees.
“And That’s a comfortable number for our space,” Chambers said.
“It really has become a community. It’s like a family reunion. People come and see old friends again,” she said.
“And we have 400 volunteers. So it’s great to not only have so many people who want to go to the fair, but who want it to be successful and want to help everything run smoothly.”
The 33rd year includes a lot of B.C. and Alberta acts performing throughout the weekend, July 19-21, including familiar faces like Rancho Deluxe, Tara Warburton, Andrew Scott, Leeroy Stagger and Rebeltone Sound, Ryland Moranz plus some people who play here a lot like Blue Moon Marquee, Tom Phillips, Peter and the Wolves, Petunia and the Vipers and many more.
Chambers said she is looking forward to having Captain Tractor return. The Edmonton-based Celtic rock/folk rock band have been together since 1993 and spent last year touring for their 25th anniversary.
“We’ve been trying to get them back for years, but the scheduling has never worked out,” Chambers continued.
She is looking forward to seeing illusionist Ron Pearson.
“He’s an illusionist and magician. He’ll set up his own tent. He does everything with mirrors so there will be things like a talking spider with a ladies’ head. He’ll have a talker outside like an old-time carnival.”
Gillian Moranz, who has been living in Vancouver booking acts for festivals like the Vancouver Folk Festival, noted she focused on acts that she has personally seen play live or come highly recommended.
“There are a couple that I haven’t seen,” Moranz said, observing this lineup is heavy on female performers.
“There is a very strong female representation this year. That wasn’t deliberate. We didn’t book them just because they were female and we needed female acts. We booked them because I had seen them live or people highly recommended them. There are a lot of incredibly talented female performers,” she continued, noting one act she hasn’t seen but is looking forward to seeing is Revel in Dimes.
“They’re a female-fronted R and B band who are from New York state and are very good,” she said. She has been booking the east stage for several years, but has to do it from afar.
“It’s nice to be back. Usually the Vancouver Folk Festival is on the same weekend, and I have to book months in advance. This time I was here for a month and could actually be here,” Moranz said, adding because she has been in Vancouver, a lot of the acts are from B.C.
“These acts are part of my daily work life,” she said.
“We have a nice balance of B.C. acts and local acts because it is important to support Western Canadian music,” she continued, adding she is looking forward to seeing Petunia and the Vipers again.
And another act she is looking forward to seeing is Jozy and the Fuzz.
“They’re a ukulele hip hop duo. I’ve never seen anything like them but they come recommended by the Cumberland Wild Festival,” she said.
Weekend passes are $116.94 in advance, $105.86 for students and seniors which includes camping. There are also day passes and afternoon passes available. The day-to-day lineup and ticket prices are available at http://southcountryfair.com/.