Brandon’s first music festival in almost five years hosted at Rideau Park

todayJuly 23, 2023 4

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Southwestern Manitoba’s biggest city is hosting its first outdoor music festival in nearly five years, bringing local talent and tunes to its main stage.

The Salamander Summer Music Festival is rocking Brandon’s Rideau Park from Friday to Sunday this weekend. Committee president Sheri Connery says the grassroots festival wants to grow a community festival with music and art for all ages.

“A lot of us on the committee have kids that range anywhere from five to 14 years old and do music in some way,” Connery said. “We’re involved in music and hope that our kids have a passionate love for music … we wanted to grow something that our kids could be proud of and be part of and show them what you do for your community.”

It has been years since there was a dedicated music festival in Brandon. The city used to have events like X-Fest, Ridge Fest and the Brandon Folk Music and Arts Festival that helped showcase local talents, but these faded into distant memories over the last couple of years.

Salamander Festival committee members all believed that in “a city our size, we should have a music festival,” Connery said.

Brandon has many great music education programs and is seeing more and more emerging artists making waves in the province, Connery said.

There had been conversations about bringing a music festival back to Brandon because it was an opportunity for people to come together, she said, while also supporting up-and-coming musicians. The group began planning for the event in August 2022.

The committee didn’t qualify for many grants as a first-year festival. Connery said they took steps like making signs using repurposed and recycled materials at the event to be environmentally and cost-friendly.

Mixed genres from Western Manitoba

The festival has been focused on showcasing local talent, and featured artists from Western Manitoba with a few Winnipeg musicians sprinkled in, Connery said. There is no specific genre to the festival because they wanted a “flavour of everyone” including rock, reggae, blues and show tunes.

She hopes that the Salamander stage will be a launch pad for artists to make their mark in the music scene.

The Salamander crew is already planning for a follow-up to the inaugural festival based on the support from Brandonites and the business community in town, Connery said. The goal is to create an even bigger and better experience for the community in 2024.

The Young Pixels, Tricia, left, and Danny Turner, open the Salamander Festival Saturday afternoon. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

Tricia and Danny Turner of the Young Pixels opened the Salamander stage Saturday afternoon. The duo is based out of Kenton, located about 250 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, and have been playing minimalist indie rock together for 17 years.

Tricia says the more opportunities for musicians to hit the stage the better.

She said the Salamander Festival is amazing, and she would like to see it take root in the community because she loves to see so many locals on the roster over a weekend.

“It’s awesome and brings everybody together,” Tricia said, adding it feels almost like a reunion connecting with so many familiar faces and friends in the music scene.

The Young Pixels wanted to be a part of the festival because their kids could come run around all day and have a great time as they hang out together as a family listening to music, Tricia said.

“It’s really exciting to see someone get the initiative to get something going again and to have been invited to be a part of it,” Tricia said.

“We were just enthused that somebody was starting up a new festival in Brandon.”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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