Canadian country music stars George Canyon and Julian Austin rocked the Ice For Kids Arena on Friday night with ground-thumping performances.
Too bad only 700 people came out.
“From the standpoint of our entertainment package, [the turnout] was disappointing,” said Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship chairman Tom Fry.
“We had a very poor crowd on Friday night for our headliner [George Canyon].
“We basically decided at this point we won’t be bringing headline bands anymore,” he noted. “It’s now going to be something we can better handle in the budget.
“The community threw us under the bus on that one,” Fry stressed.
While the turnout was better for the Saturday night show, featuring “A is A” and “Pushing Daisies,” Friday night was a letdown.
“We thought the package on Friday night was a really good package,” Fry remarked.
“I guess we didn’t hit the party crowd with the package.”
“I was amazed with Julian Austin and George Canyon,” said Anthony Mason, who was entertainment director for the FFCBC this year.
“They rocked the house.
“Saturday night, ‘A is A’ and ‘Pushing Daisies’ were phenomenal,” Mason added, noting about 1,100 were on hand for that show.
“We had amazing talent that came into Fort Frances and the people that did show up had amazing shows,” he remarked.
“I was totally blown away by the talent we brought into Fort Frances.”
But Mason admitted changes are in store for next year’s tournament.
“I’m really going to look at how we run entertainment because the last five years, we have tried to bring in big names and we can’t get the people to come out,” he explained.
“People just don’t want to come out Friday night,” he reasoned. “The people that were there [on Friday] were there to see George and Julian.
“We tried rock last year, I tried country this year, and we spend the money but we can’t get the people to come out.
“We are going to need to re-evaulate entertainment big time,” Mason stressed. “I’m going to sit down and really look at what we can do on a smaller budget because realistically, whatever we do, we can’t get the people to come out on the Friday night.
“Maybe we downsize on Friday night and focus on Saturday night, but you still need to bring in good entertainment for the people.”
While acts like George Canyon may be priced out of the new budget, Mason said he would love to bring “A is A” and Julian Austin around for another taste of the bass tournament.
“I would be excited to bring ‘A is A’ back,” he noted. “Julian Austin was a phenomenal entertainer and a great guy.
“He was personally talking about coming back in September for some fishing and talking about next year fishing the bass tournament.
“That is great to have a guy come and perform, and he wants to come back because he thinks this place is amazing.”
Mason also didn’t see many differences with the new venue at the Ice For Kids Arena compared to under the big tent at the Sorting Gap Marina.
“I would compare it to be the same because noticing how the people flocked around the bar and how they cooped up outside, that’s basically what they did in the past,” he said.
“People stood around the bar and had a great time visiting with their friends.
“It was a big party and it was really a party atmosphere,” he added.