Cripple Creek celebrates 38 years

Orlando and Grace at the Cripple Creek Music Festival, July 28, 2019. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

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The 38th annual Cripple Creek Music festival was held south of Winkler and Morden July 28, and a mix of gospel, bluegrass and country filled the air.
This year’s event featured bands from Dugald, Brandon, Winnipeg, Winkler, Miami, Manitou, Birds Hill and Snowflake.
Rosenfeld’s Art Wiebe is the secretary treasurer of the festival, (Peter Klassen is president) and he’s been with the event since the opening note.
He said there were some changes to this year’s event.
“We’ve gone from 30 minute sets to 45 minutes sets,” he said, adding this not only gives musicians a little more time to perform, but it makes it easier on those setting up the microphones for every act. “We’re looking forward to seeing what the reaction is from the audience and from the musicians themselves.”
Wiebe said they’ve never counted those in attendance at the event which is free but includes a free will offering, but said this year’s crowd took a little longer to form, in part due to the rain that fell during part of the day. (In fact the rain began in the afternoon as Winkler’s Orlando & Grace performed “Rain Come on Down”.)
Wiebe said there’s lots of reasons the festival continues to be successful nearly 40 years after it all began.
“I think it’s the passion for bluegrass, country and gospel music, the local talent, the grounds that Annie Wiebe has graciously allowed us to use for the last 38 years, definitely the atmosphere,” he said. “You put the background of oak trees and shade… and then you add that good high quality toe tapping, hand clapping, foot stomping music to that… it can’t help but be successful.”
Wiebe also credited the volunteers who continue to support the event, and the bands that come out despite the lack of a payday. Bands do get a small honorarium to cover gas.
John Plantz plays with Virginia Ridge along with his wife Irene and Victor and Susan Wollmann. They come from Dugald and Richer and have been there for 19 years.
“You meet a lot of people over the years and they become friends,” he said. “This is kind of the one place you get to see them and talk to them.”
Plantz preaches during the morning service and has done so every year he’s been in attendance. “It’s an opportunity to talk about God, what he’s done for us… and to come and hear good music,” he said. “It’s amazing the talent that shows up at a place like this. It’s like meeting family.”
Winnipeg’s Agassiz Railroad was at the festival for the second consecutive year, though band member Rob Ivany has attended before in other groups.
“We like the venue,” he said. “It’s a lovely spot to play. They do a good job with the set-up and accommodating people and it’s a nice mix of gospel, country, and bluegrass in a relaxed atmosphere.”
Agassiz Railroad does everything from traditional bluegrass to some original tunes and even what Ivany calls “grassed up tunes”, which are songs that weren’t written to be bluegrass, but have been changed to fit the genre.
Winkler’s Orlando and Grace (Orlando and Grace Sukkau) were also in attendance. They had been at some of the early festivals and a couple of the more recent ones.
Both said the festival is a great place to be. “It’s just a fun place where you can do bluegrass /gospel… there’s not a lot of places where it’s a festival just for that,” Grace explained.
Orlando said he also loves the time off the stage. “Other events are maybe a little more regulated,” he said. “You don’t have that time of interaction… everyone’s practicing right next door. It’s inspiring.”
Orlando and Grace released their album “Calm” last August and said they’ve enjoyed sharing it with fans.
On the Edge out of Manitou is also no stranger to the festival. A band for 28 years, Loretta Thorleifson said they always enjoy attending Cripple Creek.
“We love the whole culture of the Cripple Creek Festival, the fact that it’s a family event,” she said. “We love the camaraderie with the musicians, just the tradition of it.“
Thorleifson said they appreciate the hard work that goes into it. “We just want to thank the organizers and volunteers that make it happen,” she said. “We really like the vision that they have to keep it going and we just love being a part of it.”
Blumenfeld’s Calvin Klassen is part of the band, “The Traveling Kind”, and he said the event is a family thing for him.
“I grew up at the festival,” he said. “I’ve been here every year except for one when I was playing in a different band.”
The atmosphere is unique according to Klassen.
“It’s the type of music where the crowd and the musicians all interact,” he said. “It’s very real music and I just love that.”

Agassiz Railroad at the Cripple Creek Music Festival, July 28, 2019. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Cripple Creek Music Festival, July 28, 2019. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

Eva Giesbrecht on sound at the Cripple Creek Music Festival, July 28, 2019. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

On the Edge at the Cripple Creek Music Festival, July 28, 2019. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

A performer warms up in the oak grove at the Cripple Creek Music Festival, July 28, 2019. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

The Traveling Kind at the Cripple Creek Music Festival, July 28, 2019. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Morden Times)

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