For the first time in nearly three years, a concert will be happening at Affinity Place in Estevan this weekend.
Canadian country-rock music star Dallas Smith will be performing here – our reward after Estevan won the Western Canada portion of the Sirius XM Music Towns competition in the summer. Fans quickly gobbled up the tickets once they became available.
We expect it’s going to be a great show. Hopefully the spectators have a great time. We know the music will be terrific. And we expect Smith will leave Estevan raving about the community, the fans who showed up and the great venue.
(He wouldn’t be the first to come away from Affinity Place with wonderful things to say).
We earned this concert. We should be thankful to those who submitted Estevan’s bid for Music Towns. Everyone who took the time to vote for Estevan – regardless of whether it was once a day or once for the entire window – should realize they did their part in helping Estevan land this concert.
This should not be the last concert at Affinity Place for another three years.
Since Affinity Place opened in 2011, we’ve had some truly memorable shows. It started with Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, with Kim Mitchell as the opening act. Hedley, Burton Cummings, Motley Crue, Theory of a Deadman, Big Wreck, the Tragically Hip, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alice Cooper, John Cougar Mellencamp, a Gord Bamford Kitchen Party and The Offspring are among those who have brought great entertainment to the city.
In many cases, Affinity Place was the smallest venue on the tour, and Estevan was by far the smallest community, but these acts wanted to play here because they heard we have a great venue that is a little more intimate than the larger arenas. They also heard that the audience is energetic and appreciative.
We understand that it takes a lot to have one of these concerts in Estevan. It takes time to negotiate with a touring company and to organize a concert. Then it takes time to set up and tear down. It means long hours for a lot of people, particularly the City of Estevan staff.
A concert creates challenges for user groups, too. The Estevan Steelhaus U18 AAA Bears had to reschedule their first home game of the season to accommodate the Smith concert. The Estevan Bruins had to find another date for a home game, too.
If it’s a summer concert, well, it’s going to create problems for lacrosse and others who use Affinity once the ice is removed.
Finally, these concerts cost money. And since it’s usually the city bringing in the concert, they’re using taxpayer dollars to bank on the community supporting a show.
But we also have to remember that Affinity is an events centre and not just a hockey arena. When it was built, concerts were to be a big part of the offering.
Do we need to have four or five concerts a year like we did when Affinity first opened? Probably not. And the number of shows early on resulted in the novelty wearing off. But two or three acts each year that people would want to see would be a treat.
And sometimes you get a memorable opening act. Kay, Classified and High Valley have been here. The Rural Alberta Advantage was terrific when they opened The Hip in 2013.
These concerts are also a real benefit to the community. They create a considerable economic spinoff. It’s not just people in Estevan and the close surrounding area that attend. We get people from other communities, too.
These people come to town, eat in our restaurants, and since the show often runs late and they might have had a few drinks, they’ll stay in our hotel rooms.
These concerts create a buzz in the community and silence the critics who say there is nothing to do in Estevan.
And they create lasting memories for fans who get to say they saw one of their favourite acts perform live, or they were able to hear that favourite song in person.
That’s what we’ll get Saturday night when Dallas Smith plays here.
Hopefully, we’ll again get the buzz associated with a concert before too long.