Smoke on the Water fundraiser called a “rousing success”

The 6th annual Smoke on the Water community fundraiser is in the books, and by all accounts according to the organizers, it was a “rousing success.”

The family-friendly event drew an estimated record-breaking attendance of 900 people during the first night of the now two-day fundraiser, said a press release.

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Starting late in the afternoon, the “block party” got underway at the Fern Campground. Bouncy castles were set up for the entertainment of the younger crowd. New for this year was a Mini Putt set up by Kamsack River Valley Dental, and it was “quite popular” with the crowd, according to organizers.

As a fundraiser, money was generated through the sale of meals and beverages, a silent auction and, new this year, a live auction conducted by Scott Tibble of Swan Hills Auctions in Swan River, as well as donations from sponsors.

In Good Taste of Togo catered the barbecue meal with all the trimmings on the first evening of the event, while the Iron Grill of Kamsack provided the meal for the second day.

For the third year, Robert Ritchie and Ritchie Industries once again spear-headed the fundraiser which was originally started by the Hudye family as a means of fundraising for the Assiniboine Valley Health and Wellness Centre, said the release. Since 2017 Ritchie has carried on its fundraising legacy. 

“I love Kamsack, Duck Mountain, and the surrounding area,” he said. “This is where I call ‘home’, and this is where Val and I returned to raise our family. Smoke on the Water is one of those events that brings people home to visit family and friends, deepening our community bonds.”

In 2018 Ritchie brought in James Turner of Innovative Outdoorsman Marketing Ltd to help with the promotion of the event. Ritchie met Turner in conjunction with the Madge Lake Walleye Cup fishing tournament that is hosted in the park each September. He saw an immediate role for Turner and his team in helping to promote yet another event that would be both a draw for Duck Mountain Regional Park and an economic opportunity for Kamsack and surrounding area, the release said.

This year the pair collaborated to expand Smoke on the Water into a two-day event with Friday night continued as the primary show.

“A veritable feast was provided by In Good Taste of Togo before the draws and auctions took place,” said Turner. “At 9 p.m. Saskatchewan’s own Brad Johner and the Johner Boys took to the stage and rocked an audience of roughly 900 people for more than three hours.”

On Saturday, the estimated crowd of 450 people, were treated to some world-class hoop dancing by Terrance Littletent, courtesy of Saskatchewan Tourism and Sask Parks before AR Cash, a tribute group to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, took the stage and had toes tapping right through until the fireworks began. Saturday night’s “Taste of Kamsack” was provided by the Iron Grill Steakhouse, Turner concluded.

As Smoke on the Water has grown, so has the list of groups that benefit from the event. Once all the sponsorship money has been collected and the expenses are covered, which will take a few weeks, there will be three groups receiving donations this year: the KamKids Daycare for their building fund; the 100th anniversary committee of the Kamsack United Church to help offset costs associated with its celebration, and the Friends of Madge Lake (FOML) to continue its work upgrading and improving the park, said the release.

Ritchie said with the success of the joint effort between Ritchie Industries and Innovative Outdoorsman Marketing, he is now comfortable with “passing the reins” over to Turner, making the Smoke on the Water fundraiser his responsibility through his IOMPresents events management division.

“I’ve been honoured to have played my part in the story, but its time for another to take on this event,” said Ritchie. “While Ritchie Industries will always be a significant part of Smoke on the Water, I’m confident that James and his team will continue the tradition of bringing our communities together to raise funds for worthwhile causes in and out of Duck Mountain.”

Turner said he “is both humbled and excited by the opportunities that Smoke on the Water represents. 

“This is a fantastic event in every possible sense, bringing people and communities together for a good time and some great causes,” Turner stated emphatically, adding “We’ve already gotten some wonderful feedback about what we did this year, and what we might want to consider for 2020. Whatever the changes are, you can be sure that great music, great food, and great times will always be three of the cornerstones here. The fourth of course will always be ‘community’.  Smoke on the Water was born out of a love for this area and the people in it.”

Innovative Outdoorsman Marketing and IOMPresents intend to make Smoke on the Water the ‘crown jewel’ of a series of events they will be running or collaborating on in Duck Mountain Provincial Park each year, Turner pointed out. In addition to this and the Madge Lake Walleye Cup, he’ll be working with Greg Podovinnikoff, manager at Duck Mountain Provincial Park, to expand the Winter Festival in March to include an ice fishing tournament and to bring a competition barbecue event to the park in late spring or early summer concluded the release.