First annual Energetic County Fair brings community together

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The first annual Energetic County Fair was a big hit over the weekend. Organizer Dale Plourde was glad to call the music festival, held in the middle of the city, a success despite early bureaucratic snarls.

The Energetic County Fair ran from Thursday evening to Saturday night and featured major names in country music alongside local talent, young and old. 

Though the first of what he intends to make an annual festival was a great event, Plourde says next year will be even better.

“We’re definitely on the right track,” Plourde said. “We’re halfway there—but next year, we can go all the way in.”

The downtown location and the overall uniqueness of the event in the city’s history made the event’s organization unexpectedly rocky.

Plourde anticipates a smoother process next year, recognizing that this first major festival was a “guinea pig” for the city. A working relationship with the city and a level of trust established by the first successful event, he said, would help next year’s plans.

Ryan Harvey, the communications coordinator for the City of Fort St. John, said that the city was excited to see an event of this size and scope go off but agreed that the process involved in making it— and other events like it — happen requires an update.

“The big takeaway from this is that the city’s special event process needs a little bit of work,” Harvey explained. “And so we’re looking at how we can revamp that to ensure that it meets the needs of the community — especially as it comes to these bigger events.”

The desire for this kind of event, though, was clear: the response from the community last weekend, according to Plourde, was intense and incredibly positive.

The opportunity that the fair provided for people to gather after several years of a pandemic that limited social interaction. This, he knows, was part of the excitement that the event garnered. 

“We’re social beings and this really, really helped get us out there,” he said. “We were really due for something like this.”

It was also a huge opportunity for young local artists to have their voices and work heard by a larger audience — and to join the bill alongside big names like Emerson Drive.

Megan Clarance and Braydon Watson were two of these acts.

Making this space for young musicians, along with the communities they come from, was a driving force behind the event itself.

“That’s sort of my main focus—because that’s something that I went through as a young musician,” Plourde said. “It’s really hard to find those opportunities. So it makes me feel good to create them.”

Bringing the community together for great music and big acts and supporting talented young adults with these opportunities tie together for what Plourde envisions the fair becoming: an event that helps develop the unique identity and culture of the town. 

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