Huge crowd celebrates Sunfest opening night with Canyon, Pritchett in Lake Cowichan

Aaron Pritchett, who lives on Gabriola Island now, celebrates his birthday in style on the Sunfest mainstage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)Aaron Pritchett, who lives on Gabriola Island now, celebrates his birthday in style on the Sunfest mainstage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
A big crowd turns out Thursday night to kick off Sunfest Country Music Festival 2018 in style. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)A big crowd turns out Thursday night to kick off Sunfest Country Music Festival 2018 in style. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
The night was cool but pleasant at Laketown Ranch, just the right atmosphere for a little dancing. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)The night was cool but pleasant at Laketown Ranch, just the right atmosphere for a little dancing. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
George Canyon sings at what he called “a big old kitchen party” at Sunfest Country Music Festival in Lake Cowichan Aug. 2. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)George Canyon sings at what he called “a big old kitchen party” at Sunfest Country Music Festival in Lake Cowichan Aug. 2. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Jojo Mason, left, who is scheduled to play Sunfest tonight (Friday) joins Aaron Pritchett onstage Thursday. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)Jojo Mason, left, who is scheduled to play Sunfest tonight (Friday) joins Aaron Pritchett onstage Thursday. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Thursday night was a party night for thousands of fans as Sunfest 2018 opened at Laketown Ranch in Lake Cowichan Aug. 2.

Two Canadian stars were featured on opening night of the huge country music festival.

It was Aaron Pritchett’s 48th birthday, so the stage was decked with balloons and streamers. Even his mic had a red ribbon attached.

And George Canyon followed up, teasing the crowd that they were in for “nine hours of non-stop music” at his down home “kitchen party”.

Both these performers are popular with Vancouver Island fans. Pritchett has lived most of his life in B.C. and now makes his home on Gabriola Island, and Canyon’s support for Canada’s armed forces and his warm onstage personality meant their return to Sunfest drew a lot of people out on what has usually been a warm-up night for the big festival in Lake Cowichan.

Pritchett sang all his hits, and also asked the crowd to join him in a wild medley of 90s pop songs that even included ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls.

Canyon, who, early in his set, said his family is one of the most important things in his life, then offered a song for all the men who had a son, clearly demonstrating his ability to reach out and touch his listeners.

The result was that everyone had a great time, and, with three more days of music and fun at Sunfest still to come, including headliner Eric Church on Sunday, anticipation is high that things can only get better at this year’s festival.

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