That's the way to concert, Estevan!
Saturday night thousands of people were out at Affinity Place. The line to come in went all the way to Souris Avenue North. And even though those who came in earlier ended up waiting for a while before the doors opened, the atmosphere in the line was amazing.
We are definitely a hockey city, but I don't think even the Centennial Cup final game attracted as many people as Dallas Smith last weekend. And being a part of that crowd felt really great, something I haven't experienced in a while.
I had a short-cutting media pass, but before the concert, I kept coming back out to breathe in the excitement, happiness and vibes of a good old big event. It indeed was an occasion that brought the community together and, at least for one night, made us forget about our daily problems. Not only was it great entertainment, but it actually was a project, which to me proved that Estevan can.
Sirius/XM Canada's nationwide Music Towns contest invited all Canadian smaller communities to try themselves out in this race. And the fact that we won shows that we have all it takes to be the champs of anything we set our minds on. We wanted the concert; we got it following all the steps of this fun Music Town journey.
Step one – nomination. Sirius/XM said they received submissions from over 400 unique communities. I've written motivational letters several times before, and it's not an easy job to find the right facts and the right words to make an invisible jury choose you. Especially when the competition is strong. Apparently, we have sincere and dedicated people whose heartfelt words convinced the contest-runners that we deserve the attention and the fun.
So, we ended up making the final 16 Canada-wide, and the final four in our Western Canada region. An achievement already worth celebrating, but we didn't stop.
Step two – online voting and social rallying. We nailed that part too. In our group, we were facing Lloydminster (over 31,000 people), Nanaimo, B.C. (over 101,000 people) and Sylvan Lake, Alta. (over 16,000 people). Estevan's population, according to the 2021 census, is 10,851 people. And even if the numbers for our and other communities varied some since the latest censuses, we were still the smallest community competing. Did it mean that we had to give up? No, not Estevan. We voted as much as we could and beat the community 10 times bigger than ours. Just because we could.
Sirius/XM said that over 100,000 votes were cast for the different communities, with local officials and community leaders motivating residents to get involved and bring live music to the heart of their town. Well, most of those votes must have been ours.
Step three – enjoying the prize. The concert was awesome. There were some tickets offered on social media hours before the event as some couldn't make it, but I'm assuming most people that secured their entry were at Affinity Saturday night. And it was busy, way busier than at some other concerts I attended in Estevan.
Of course, tickets were free, which not only allowed for filling the place, I'm assuming, to capacity, but also ensured people could enjoy some food, snacks and drinks and buy some merchandise without turning a night out into an event costing $1,000 for an average family. It's different with regular concerts, but I've seen Affinity as full before and I hope to see it many more times.
Step four – learning from the experience. Yes, it was a concert and just something fun for all of us in the Estevan area. Even those that didn't get to go or didn't want to go got to share the excitement the event sparked through others' experiences. It indeed was something that lifted our spirit.
But more importantly, the experience with the Music Town competition showed that we can achieve what we want. We pulled together to win this concert and beat serious competition. And it proves that we can do it again if we really set our minds on the goal. Estevan can achieve anything if we keep working together as a community. We have the people who can see and word what's better for the community. We have the people who know how to work to make it a reality. We have the people who can organize it. We have the people who value the results and are ready to build on them.
The community, the city, the volunteers, the performers and the organizers all equally played a role in this experience, and I can't thank everyone involved enough.
And if we want to keep this city prosperous and we want to see a great future for ourselves, I know for sure that we can, no matter what challenges we are to face on our way.