“I always say that I think Bengough offers the quintessential Saskatchewan experience. Everyone is just so incredibly friendly, helpful, and welcoming. It is truly the people of Bengough that make the Gateway Festival possible,” says Artistic Director Michael Dawson. The Gateway Music Festival has only one part-time employee and is otherwise entirely produced and presented by a team of incredible volunteers from Bengough and the surrounding area.
Pictured: Michael Dawson, Artistic Director
The town of Bengough with a population of nearly 350 people located in South West Saskatchewan has everything to make for a perfect weekend getaway. “Of course there's the music, the beer gardens, and the camping experience, but there's also a grocery store, outdoor pool, museum, sidewalk sales, vintage pop-ups, food trucks, ball diamonds, and so much more,” Michael says. It's also located on the edge of the Big Muddy, which is such a beautiful part of the province.
The festival began nearly 20 years ago as a one day community fundraiser featuring Corb Lund. Michael says, “The festival was started by the Bengough Municipal Arts Council and Carol Cairns, who was the original Artistic Director and left very big shoes to fill.” He mentioned that the festival is still part of a charitable non-profit organization and each year makes contributions back to the events and organizations in the area.
The team behind the festival has made it a priority to ensure they host an event that has the audience experience at the forefront. Michael mentioned the festival now has two stages that alternate back and forth on the main festival site. This means there is non-stop music day and night. “We've also added a Pool Stage presented by the Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange on Saturday afternoon at the outdoor swimming pool downtown. In addition, there is a car show, a historical/cultural tour of the community, pancake breakfast, a children's area with performances and activities, many food trucks and venues, and much more,” Michael says.
“It's a family friendly event. It's our hope to create a festival experience that is for everyone, so it's always so great to look out at the crowd and see several generations enjoying the music.”
The Gateway Music Festival is a multi-genre festival with something for everyone. Michael says every year someone says that they’ve discovered their new favourite band. Over the years the small town in rural Saskatchewan has hosted some very iconic artists. “Ian Tyson stands out as a very special moment. Buffy Sainte-Marie, Steve Earle, Tom Cochrane, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band... It's impossible to list them all. But of course, we're also so proud to have been able to present amazing artists from Saskatchewan including Tenille Arts, Jess Moskaluke, Colter Wall, The Sheepdogs, and so many more,” says Michael.
“The support of SaskTel is integral to our event. Partnerships, sponsorships, and volunteer support is the heart of our festival.”
Michael mentions they are still working to rebuild following the impact of the pandemic, and that the support from everyone makes it possible. He encourages folks who haven’t attended the Gateway Music Festival to take a chance on their event and experience all that Gateway has to offer.
SaskTel is proud to support local organizations that are Making Saskatchewan Better. The SaskTel Cares team will be attending and we hope to see you at this incredible event that the town of Bengough works so hard for.
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