Music Fest set attendance record

They were coming all afternoon, into the evening and by the time it was all over around 9 p.m., over 1,000 people had the made the trip to Mud Lake City.
The seventh-annual Mud Lake City Music Fest turned out to be the biggest ever, even though rain threatened to put a damper on things at any minute. But in the end, the sun came out long enough to keep things warm and buoyant.
“We had a pretty small window in the weather,” said event organizer Betty Salchert. “We were concerned it was going to be wet, but it turned out just fine.”
Salchert said it was by far the biggest turnout, an impression confirmed by the volunteers constantly shuttling people to and from the site on Boxalder Road in Devlin.
“They (the volunteers) said they’ve never seen that many before,” noted Salchert on Monday.
An exact head count was difficult to make because not everyone signed the guest book—an issue Salchert says she intends to address next year by requesting people sign in at the gate. Officially, 463 people did sign in, but the numbers were quite obviously much higher.
There was a 50/50 draw, where for a dollar, you could take your best guess at the number in attendance, based on the guest book. Vern Silver of Atikokan came closest with 461 and took home $40 for his efforts.
People were snapping up burgers, hotdogs, and “Bordello Burgers”—fried summer sausage on a bun—as well as soft drinks while a total of 30 performers took their 15 minutes of fame on the stage.
In addition to the usual assortment of bluegrass, country and gospel acts, this year featured some new performers.
Singer/guitarist Leah Woods of Fort Frances treated the crowd to what was probably the first taste of Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan ever to be heard at the Music Fest as well as some Smoky Robinson.
Former Cape Breton Islanders Danette MacDonald and Wayne MacIntyre of Fort Frances played some heart-felt traditional east-coast ballads, while Kimika and Amika Alexander of Fort Frances won the hearts of the crowd with their solo and dual piano performances.
But the biggest reception was reserved for a special guest who arrived at the stage in regal style in a white Fairlane convertible.
Yes, Elvis (a.k.a. Vaughn Murray of Rainy River) was in the building and delivered the classics to an appreciative crowd.
Salchert said she was most appreciative of the help she had in making the day the success it was.
Glen Jackson was in perpetual motion driving the Hillbilly Limo back and forth between the site and the road with loads of passengers, while the Heron Landing Golf Club provided two of their carts for the same purpose. Furthermore, even the neighbours chipped in by allowing people to park their cars in the adjacent field.
“It was just wonderful having those golf carts and the neighbours loaning us their fields,” Salchert enthused.
That generosity even extended to the visitors themselves. Salchert said she was surprised and delighted to find there was virtually no garbage to clean up on Monday. At first she thought some neighbours or volunteers had pitched in overnight Sunday, but it appears everyone was considerate enough to dispose of things properly in the first place.
“I was amazed at how clean everything was,” she remarked.