'Dance like no one is watching': mayor declares Country Thunder Week in Regina

The largest country music festival in Canada is set to kick off in Craven, Sask., on Thursday.

As fans ready their cowboy boots for some two-stepping and foot-stomping, Country Thunder organizers say the site is ready to welcome the hordes of people, as well as the expected heat wave.

Troy Vollhoffer, president of Country Thunder, said the festival has four water trucks and plenty of resources at the ready. He also said there will be 48 RCMP members in the vicinity to ensure safety.

The organization hosts six Country Thunder festivals across North America each year.

Meanwhile, Mayor Sandra Master has declared July 10 to 16 "Country Thunder Week" in the Queen City.

"This proclamation celebrates the significant impact that this festival has on our community," Masters told members of the media at city hall Monday morning.

"Treat each other kindly, dance like no one is watching, and sing along to the unbelievable artists that Country Thunder has lined up for us this year."

Country Thunder returns to Saskatchewan after a two-year hiatus.
Country Thunder runs from July 11-14 in Craven, Sask. (Daniella Ponticelli/CBC)

Masters said the country music festival is a significant economic driver for Regina, spending approximately $3 million annually within the city. She said it contributes to the city's economic health through increased hotel stays, restaurant visits, airport traffic and shopping.

Country Thunder is also expecting its one millionth guest this year at its Craven festival. That fan will be showered with perks when they come through the gates over the weekend.

"It's a big deal for us," said Vollhoffer. "It's going to be a great honour for us to be able to celebrate that with our one millionth fan."

The festival will feature performances by Saskatchewan artists including Eli Barsi, Teagan Littlechief and Regina's own Melissa Mannett and Jeffery Straker.

Country Thunder has traditionally provided opportunities for lesser-known artists to get audience exposure.

"I think this is a credit to Troy and his team is that they always help promote up and coming artists," said Masters.

One such up-and-coming musician is Regina's Micah Walbaum, who is set to perform at the festival beer garden Saturday afternoon. Walbaum recently won the Regina Pure Country 92.7 Rising Superstar contest, which earned her the slot at Country Thunder.

Country Thunder runs Thursday to Sunday in Craven and features numerous artists including Luke Combs, Dallas Smith Nickelback and Gary Allen.