Year six, and Gone Country is being hailed another success by the Langley organizers.
This giant country music festival held at Bill Reid Millennium Park in Cloverdale Saturday afternoon and evening is a fundraiser for cancer, organized and hosted by Langley’s own Jamie and Chris Ruscheinski.
“I’m sure we hit our goal of $600,000,” Chris said earlier Sunday. “I’d be one sad little pony if we didn’t.”
Later that evening, he confirmed they’ve raised more than $651,000.
“There were a lot of hugs, a few tears, and a sh… ton of money raised,” he said.
Last year’s show raised $520,000. And the philanthropic twins were elated to have topped their $600,000-goal this year, with a big chunk of the money raised going toward the purchase of a bus for the Canuck Place children’s hospice in Abbotsford.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling that this bus is going to bring a lot of joy to the kids at Canuck Place and take them on some pretty cool adventures,” Chris said.
“The show was incredible,” he added. “The place was packed. The vibe was great.”
Among the highlights of the evening, the Vancouver-based Washboard Union band – who performed publicly earlier in the evening – came back on stage, after the show wrapped up and the spectators had left, to do a surprise performance just for the volunteers, Chris explained.
“They are three of the best humans on the planet. They completely get what we’re about, we’re doing all this for cancer,” he said of the band, noting they offered their time to do the special set for the more than 220 volunteers involved in planning, set up, and tear down of Gone Country.
“That’s just something we wanted to do for our volunteers,” Chris said. “This is our way of saying thank you… Our volunteers are what keep us coming back.”
Washboard Union was asked to perform a couple songs for the team, but stuck around for at least a dozen songs, again joined on stage by JoJo Mason for a few.
“The encores never stopped,” Chris said, noting the after-concert festivities – complete with pizza and music – went on well into the morning hours.
As well, Chris was moved by the outpouring of support received during clean up.
“One really cool part this year was people helping… It was really neat. It looked like a bunch of zombies, because everyone was so tired – but complete strangers without even having rubber gloves, were going around just picking up garbage and helping us tear down all of the VIP tables and everything. It was pretty cool, and it saved us hours the next day,” Chris said.
“It was so damn fun,” Chris said of the entire event.
“This will always be a cancer fundraiser first, and a concert second. Last night I truly felt that this resonates with every single one of our guests,” he shared with Black Press.
In addition to the Washboard Union performances, other musicians included in the Gone Country concert included Langley’s own Karen Lee Batten, Rollin’ Trainwreck, The Tumblin’ Dice, Andrew Christopher, Jesse Allen Harris, JRfm DJ Jaxon Hawks, and Gord Bamford.
The line-up for next year’s show has already been arranged, but Chris said they won’t be going public with that for some time.
“I can tell you we’re very excited about the talent for next year…”
Is there more to this story?