Tour de Fort returns to town

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

When early spring rolls around, the perils of winter are washed away by the sounds of live music and the anticipation of warmer weather. Due to pandemic-mandated restrictions, live music has been put on hold but not for much longer as Tour de Fort returns on Aug. 14 for their first live performance since March 2020.

Charles Fisher, president of the board of directors, said they are able to put on the performances because they received a grant from Heritage Canada to help organizations like Tour de Fort start putting on some shows during the summer months.

“We’re excited for it. It’s been a really long time since we’ve been able to do anything and have live music and it’s going to be a really good event just to do something normal,” Fisher said. “It’ll be great for the people that get to come out and see a live show and see some great music and great for Tour de Fort to be able to get back to doing what we do.”

The event is free, based on first come, first serve, due to outdoor gathering restrictions set by the province.

The performance will take place at the Rainy Lake Square. Fisher said the square has a capacity of 260 individuals. The current provincial restrictions for outdoor gatherings is 75 per cent. Fisher said they can have 175 individuals, adding that it might change closer to the event date.

“We’re really committed to making sure that we have strong health and safety protocols in place and that we’re following all of the public health guidelines,” Fisher said. “If things change, we’ll make sure that we’re following everything. I’m going to make it safe for everybody that’s involved, whether that’s our volunteers, staff, the artists or the people that are coming to the show.”

The event will start at 2 p.m. starting with Raine Hamilton. Noah Derksen and the Overdrafts will have their performance at 4 p.m., followed by Jean-Paul De Roover and The Bandaid Solution at 6 p.m. The final performance will be at 8 p.m., by the Honest Heart Collection.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Fisher said. “We’re committed to making sure that we’re putting out an event that is going to be in a safe environment for everybody’s comfort level. Being in a group setting is going to be different and feel strange for some people, because they might not have been able to do it for quite a long time.”

Because the event is free and sponsored by Heritage Canada, Fisher said they will be accepting donations that will go towards their future performances.

“A lot of artists have really struggled through the last 18 months because they haven’t been able to travel or perform,” Fisher said. “They make a living by coming to towns like Fort Frances and putting on live shows. It’s going to be really great for the artists to be able to get back out, and for some of them, this is going to be the first live show that they’ve played since the pandemic started.”

Fisher said they will be working on a concert series starting this fall and going into the winter, starting in September 2021 until April 2022.