An international cast of jugglers, acrobats, sword-swallowers, hip hop dancers and more descend on Grande Prairie for the annual Grande Prairie International Street Performers Festival.
Connect to country roots at Ranch Country Music Fest
Grande Prairie, AB — Ranch Country Music Festival comes by its name honestly. Grande Prairie is undoubtedly ranch country, and even the venue for the fledgling festival—Evergreen Park—boasts a prairie setting with rodeo history. With headlining artists Duane Steele, Trevor Panczak and Kyle McKearney, you can bet that cowboy boots, big buckles and big outlaw sound will be the dominant theme all weekend long.
When you think about it, it’s actually kind of surprising there hasn't been a country music festival in the region now for over five years. But that’s where Ranch Country Music Festival saw an opportunity, and as the organizers put it, sought to bring a new, grassroots community event to the area.
And, if you are on the ball on social, you could even win a weekend pass...
So sure, there are big headliners. But you’ll also feel that warm country welcome at events like the Sunday morning pancake breakfast, or the traditional Cowboy Church event. (So if you usually attend Sunday service, this gives you a two for one!)
Beer gardens will of course be rocking, too. But families will find plenty of welcoming activities for the kids as well, beyond the mainstage.
And while it may be a new festival, it comes with some deep local roots.
"I was a road musician, playing in Rock'N'Horse with Duane Steele and we grew up playing music together, toured the US and Canada and played a lot of festivals," says Dave Milner, the founding organizer for the festival, "When I got off the road, I thought, geez, this is what I know."
Milner was formerly the founder of Grande Prairie's Bud Country Festival in 1996 (before handing it off), a festival ran for over 20 years in the Grande Prairie area.
With that kind of pedigree, Ranch Country Music Fest is bound to be one of Western Canada’s top country festivals of the summer.
While we could go on about all the great reasons for country fans to get out and enjoy this three-day weekend of “boot stompn’” performances in Grande Prairie, it probably makes more sense to share a taste of what you’ll get.
So here’s a quick introduction to the Ranch Country Music Festival headliners.
Several-time Western Canadian Music Award nominee, Kyle McKearney’s debut album also garnered a nomination for Best Alternative Country Album at the Canadian Country Music Awards.
He’s shared stages with The Black Crowes, Our Lady Peace and Dean Brody, and his latest release A Travelers’ Lament ratchets up the rockin’ country in a big way.
WATCH: Kyle McKearney performs "Mercy" (live)
With a top 50 hit or two under his belt, Trevor Panczak is a familiar name to many country fans. No doubt he’ll have the crowd singing along to top tracks like “For A Girl,” “Cheap Shades” or “Blame it on the Whiskey.”
His friendly demeanor and honest performances have earned the Alberta-based performer opening slots for artists including Keith Urban, Willie Nelson, Zac Brown Band and Michelle Wright.
WATCH: Trevor Panczak, "Cheap Shades"
Bringing his own show, as well as his George Jones tribute show, Duane Steele is a journeyman country musician who came up through the ranks of 80s and 90s legendary performers and claimed his own spot at the top.
Since he hit the scene in 1984, the Alberta-born and raised Steele has won multiple Canadian Country Music Awards and released a handful of top 5 country hits, opening for big country artists like Shania Twain, Terri Clark and Prairie Oyster.
WATCH: highlights from Duane Steele's "The Legend of George Jones"
And as if that’s not enough, Milner and his team have also worked hard to bring a solid list of Alberta and Western-based artists to round out the Ranch Country festival weekend.
"We have incredible, amazing talent that's come out of the Peace Country, and all Alberta," Milner says. "That's what I'm here for, to showcase these artists. It's going to be a great collage of music and we're going to promote the heck out of vocal entertainment and local artists."
Grande Prairie, beyond the stage
There’s more to northern Alberta’s biggest urban hub than meets the eye. Hiking and biking trails, golf courses and lakes dot the landscape, ripe for adventure. Plus there's an awesome urban scene with farmers markets, events and nearby nature to explore.
So get ready—Grande Prairie ranch country is full of adventure this summer.
WHEN YOU GO
Grande Prairie is the largest city in Alberta's north, with outdoor adventure, arts and culture, shopping and events year-round.
Driving times & directions
to Grande Prairie from:
Edmonton 4.5h northwest on AB 43-N
Prince George 5h45m east on BC 97N-AB 43E
To Evergreen Park from Grande Prairie is an additional 10 minutes' drive south.
Where to stay, eat and play
Your local hosts Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association have you covered for accommodations and all things Grande Prairie travel.
More travel planning ideas
check out #exploreNWAB on ZenSeekers.com for stories on travel and outdoor adventure in the area.