Feature Story                                                                                                     Friday August 31, 2012


Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings

Party in the Park finale no less than amazing

Staff/Voice file photos


Andrew Allen sings his hit single Loving You Tonight at the Party in the Park finale last Friday.


nce upon a time in a land not too faraway is a town called Chilliwack — and it's humble residents sure can party.


For many of us summer was a blur, and it’s hard to believe we’ll be going into our first Friday without Party in the Park tonight.


Throughout July and August, Central Community Park downtown saw it all while hosting the Coast Capital Savings Party in the Park events. From clowns to cowboys and hippies to heroes, it was a summer of wonderful memories and mellifluous moments from top name music acts, and even showcasing our eccentric side with an unofficial Guinness World Record for corn husking.


The Park itself, and surrounding streets, were full to capacity. The 98.3/SONiC 107.5 Entertainment Stage was buzzing with non-stop singers and bands. Everything was perfect including the weather.


The star-studded lineup featured Andrew Allen singing his hit song “Loving You Tonight”, ageless rock and rollers Stonebolt, 13-year-old Cole Amour, Darcy D and friends and mononymous singer  Savannah Quinn, otherwise known as Laurell.


Kathy Funk, Downtown Business Improvement Association Executive Director and Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz were in the 98.3 Star FM studios last Friday morning to talk with hosts Keiran and Lisa about the Party in the Park finale.


"They have such great artists out there," said Gaetz of the talent this year. "It's absolutely phenomenal. I think people who think we pull in a couple of people that maybe can play a banjo and accordion. That's not the way it is out there. It is so cool, and I love that big screen right down on Wellington and then if you're eating stuff from the vendors in the Night Market and you want to go shop, these guys have done a phenomenal job."


Gaetz thanked City workers for their efforts all summer long and gave the washrooms and porta-potties, street blockades and electrical setups as examples.


"My crew does a great job and I want to give a shout out to the crew," she said. "They clean the bathrooms, they go in and make sure that there is toilet paper and that's a very important part of Party in the Park. And they had to put some extra electric outlets to make sure that everybody could hook up and those guys love Party in the Park so its not a chore for them, they love doing it and I'm just really proud of them, I think they all do a good job."


The family event is paid for by sponsors and Gaetz said one of the things she likes best is that it is free.


"It's really cool to be in Chilliwack on a Friday night," she said.


Singer Andrew Allen, who hails from Vernon in the Okanagan, told 98.3 Starfm afternoon host Jeff Molnar on Friday that that he has stopped in Chilliwack a couple of times in the past on his way by, but has never spent any amount of time in the city.


"I'm excited to get to know the people there because I haven't had time there," he said.


Allen and his wife are touring across the country in a mini-van.


"My wife and I sold everything we had and bought a mini-van, packed it full of gear, booked a tour across Canada and then just went for it," he explained. "We ended up racking up 330,000 kilometers on that thing, it was awesome."


Allen has a new CD coming out called "Satellite" and he talks about his wife's sacrifices in order to facilitate the tour.


"By saying that we sold everything and bought a mini-van, it kind of sounds like we're hippies, but if you knew her, you'd know that she's absolutely not. She's a professional make-up artist, she now does eye lash extensions for women. She's very much a "pretty girl" and for her to give up everything and move into a mini-van to help me support my dream is just a huge sacrifice, so you know that everybody always says that 'behind every great man is an even greater woman', that's definitely my case."


The Voice had a chance to talk with Pacific/Warner recording artist Laurell who currently has a hit single out called "Can't Stop Falling" which picked up the 2010 Western Canadian Music Award Pop Recording of the Year.


Laurell started singing as a little girl in North Vancouver where she grew up.


"I wrote my first song when I was eight-years-old," she said.


Now she has four albums under her belt.


"I did the singer/songwriter thing when I was 18 and released my first album when I was 21."


She and her four-piece band have been together for the last four years.


"They're amazing players. They're well-respected in the city and everywhere we go, people that 'wow, you've got a tight band' and I know it, I'm so lucky," she said with a laugh.


Laurell is busy working on two albums and writing for a pair of young artists who she says are "absolutely incredible".


"In the process of writing for myself, I'm also writing for other artists and having more and more opportunities come my way when being invited to write with other people and for other people, and that's a huge honour and something that I'm really passionate about."


Laurell says that as she learns in life, she finds more reasons to write songs.


"I feel lucky because I'm getting practice writing songs for other people and I'm also having the chance to sit by myself in my little beach apartment in the West End."


The songstress is also in the midst of creating her own new album which she'll be recording sometime in 2013.


"I'm going to be taking some pretty big risks on that," she said.




"This has been my favourite gig all year," she says of Party in the Park. "It's such an amazing environment, the amphitheatre that wraps all the way around the stage, everybody can be comfortable and have a view and the sound quality is amazing, you guys are doing something very right here and I want to come back next year."


Kudos to the City of Chilliwack, the Downtown Business Improvement Association, Kathy Funk, Desmond Devnich, Debbie Biggin, Harold Zinke and staff, along with the army of about 50 unsung hero volunteers who made it possible for the rest of us to have a great time.


Craftsman Collision sponsored the Fairy Tale Night theme night and Funk says the kids always love to dress up for it.


"Of course in the Family Fun Zone, Safeway and Prime Signs have been fabulous and Safeway's donating 1000 cupcakes tonight, so we're going to be giving out cupcakes along with all the other goodies they've given us," Funk said.


"The stores are open and that's what we're really thrilled about. Sticky's is packed. If you want to see a candy store full of people come down tonight and take a look, and I do love Lolly's too, and there is a lot happening at the Royal LePage Night Market, lots of great vendors."


Funk said she is thrilled that the Chilliwack community has supported them and thanks all the student volunteers for their efforts.


Now that Party in the Park this year is a wrap, we’ll be looking forward to next summer.


And they all lived happily ever after.


Connect with the BIA at www.downtownchilliwack.com



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© Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice



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