A neighbourhood in Okotoks’ north end is rounding up its musical talent for a free concert in the park on Saturday.
About a dozen musicians are converging on Suntree Park to perform an array of music including classic rock, opera, Disney show tunes, folk, and country in its ninth annual Suntree Music Festival Sept. 7 from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“We try to mix up the lineup every year so we have a few new people this year,” said Mark Rowed, festival organizer with the Suntree Village Residents Association. “We always welcome new artists from the neighbourhood.”
Rowed said the festival began as a way to get neighbours together.
“It’s a way for people in our neighbourhood to get to know each other and do something together and have a good time together,” he said. “It was always a neighbourhood thing for us to promote neighbours getting to know each other. That’s our primary focus.”
While the intention of the festival is neighbourhood based, the event is open to the public, said Rowed.
“Being that it’s a pubic event we welcome other people from the community to come and enjoy the show,” he said.
Rowed said the talent is impressive, with opera singers, professional bands and a music teacher.
“We’ve always had an outstanding lineup of musicians in our neighbourhood, which has always been a wonderful thing,” he said. “We have some artists that we’ve invited that are friends of people in the neighbourhood. The music is always fabulous.”
What makes the event popular is the laid-back atmosphere, with families bringing chairs and blankets, dancing to the music and enjoying a variety of food from food trucks, as well as ice cream and cotton candy, said Rowed.
“It’s a very entertaining afternoon,” he said. “It’s always fun.”
The festival is a big draw to the park, with a grand finale the last half hour that gets many performers together on stage.
Rowed has even had the pleasure of playing at the festival alongside his daughter a number of years ago.
A regular performer at the Suntree Music Festival is Daryl Ham.
“We’re affectionately known as The Dad Band,” said Ham. “We cover Tom Petty, The Tragically Hip, Oasis and lots of different bands. It’s something fun, something fresh.”
The Dad Band consists of Mark Edwards on bass, Brent Ballash on percussion, lead guitarist Mike Martel, and Jason Krueger and Mike LeBlanc on guitar. Ham sings and plays harmonica.
“Nobody is paying for tickets and everybody is there having fun so there’s no pressure to be super good,” he said.
For Ham, who enjoys the relaxed atmosphere and opportunity to chat with friends, the Suntree Music Festival is all about community.
“There’s a chance to catch up after the summer and just visit and have a good time,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”