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Full day of entertainment for Leipzig Music Festival attendees

The front row was already occupied by the time Leipzig Serenity Retreat's Third Annual Music Festival kicked off at 11 a.m., Saturday May 31.
Headliner Eli Barsi on stage with her band at the Leipzig Serenity Retreat's Third Annual Music Festival.

The front row was already occupied by the time Leipzig Serenity Retreat's Third Annual Music Festival kicked off at 11 a.m., Saturday May 31. Competition from other activities going on, such as Unity Western Days, didn't stop fans from coming out to support the fundraiser and enjoy a day chock-full of entertainment.

The day is held as a fundraiser, helping those who can't otherwise afford treatment get the help they require.

"It is a great influence on our staff and the clients that attend our five-week residential retreat," says Bruce Price, primary counsellor. "A lot of previous clients attend with their families and show our current clients that you can have a great time sober. We hope that this event will be an annual homecoming for all of those who began their recovery here, a way to bring past and present clients together."

Ten bands hit the stage over the day, wrapping up around 8:30 pm. Bill Risling, Bruin, Steve Palmer, Fremont Street Band, Tammy Gerlinsky, Tilly & the Billygoat, HillBilly Blunt with Lonely J, Rusty Augers and Stereo Playground had the crowd singing and, at times, dancing along to their music.

Headliner Eli Barsi, who has just come off a multiple-award win, showcased material from her album, released just under a year ago - Portrait of a Cowgirl. Barsi, from Moosomin, gave a shout-out to the retreat, saying, "being part of this event is an honour." The new album is "western themed and about rural sensibility, something the audience can relate to," says Barsi, "so, it's very special to play in my home province."

The grounds were also covered with vendors, and activities for the kids such as a bouncy castle and face painting. The inside of the building played home to two artists: Grace Gerein from Unity and Sarah Doherty Heinrichs from Saskatoon, who both had art up to view as well as available for purchase.

Food was also available throughout the day. The burger stand was ran by Friends of Leipzig, who provide financial support for addicts seeking recovery. So far they have put five people through the program at Leipzig.

Jack Hills and Sherry Richards of the band Tilly and the Billy Goat, were the MCs for the day, keeping the crowd entertained with humorous banter as well as performing their own set. Partway through the day, Hills led a fundraising auction, which was full of generously donated items.

With tears held back, owner Ardyth Clark and daughter Jacqueline Hoffman, event co-ordinator, got on stage after the auction concluded and thanked the crowd for their support. Clark also gave a thank you to her daughter, who will be moving back to Alberta in the summer, for taking the reins and putting on this great festival for the past three years.

"I have been to a few jamborees but this is one of the best," says Jeanette Shepherd from Saskatoon. This is the second year of attendance for Shepherd, and she says she attends because of "the surroundings, the settings and (the fact) that the money is going to a good cause. Because," Shepherd adds, "like Ardyth said, there is always someone: family, a neighbour, who may have a drug or alcohol problem."