By Lawrence Gleason, Local Press Writer
The Willow Creek Gospel Music Jamboree rocked Granum for three days with five Christian gospel musical groups. The jamboree featured a longer circus tent this year for the audience, which was nearly filled to capacity several times throughout the three-day event, with crowds of 550 to 600, arriving from all western provinces and at least two American states, listening to five musical groups.
Darrel Janz was back as jamboree emcee, his 18th year taking part in the Willow Creek Gospel Music Jamboree.
“This year had a very good feeling to it,” Janz said. “And we had very top-notch performers.”
In attendance on Sunday were both the local Member of the Legislative Assembly, Roger Reid, and Member of Parliament John Barlow.
“For churches to come together during an event like this is really fantastic, it makes our community stronger,” said Reid. “It is fantastic that Granum takes this challenge on, because it is no small feat.”
Barlow said, “It takes so much work on the part of volunteers to make this happen, but it is such a highlight of our summer here.”
Fran Hanson, one of the earliest organizers of the jamboree, said it took more than 50 volunteers to put the Christian musical event on, with planning taking a full year for each event.
It is the 22nd year of the Willow Creek Gospel Music Jamboree, held in Granview Park in Granum each year.
Even among very strong performances of other groups this year, one new group to the jamboree was a hit.
Hanson, commenting on lead singer, Rob Thiessen of Prairie Joe, said, “His voice is every bit as good as Paul Brandt’s.”
Prairie Joe, a Manitoba group of four farm-raised brothers and their piano-playing brother-in-law, raised the tent roof with their performances and comedic on-stage banter.
The brothers showed off a farm-engineered device to hold a banjo and mandolin for the brother picking both instruments, and joked that the youngest brother, a dentist, was treated a lot better by his older brothers ever since he became skilled with a needle and pliers.
Prairie Joe deviated a bit from their cowboy gospel songsheet to please the farmers and ranchers in the audience with a foot-stompin’ ode to the John Deere tractor, one of the more popular tunes of the entire weekend.
Attendees enjoyed breakfast burritos Saturday, a beef-on-the-bun dinner that night, and a free pancake breakfast Sunday, served up by Granum’s Christian Reformed Church members.
The group that opened and closed the music-filled weekend was the Fort Macleod Alliance Church Worship Band, with Dion Mitchell, Hanna Vandenbroek, Gerdina Oosterwijk and Rob Fletcher.
A tip of the hat was made to Wendy and Bernie Kennedy, and also to Kate Ellis and Linda DeMaere for their tireless volunteering to the jamboree.
The Sunday service was dedicated to the late Patty Vandervalk, who worked tirelessly on the Jamboree for years volunteering for every job from cleaning bathrooms to organizing to working at whatever job there was to do.
Pastor Joachim Chisanga of Claresholm provided the Sunday sermon for this year’s jamboree.