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Concert series set to open

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Rain or shine, the first official concert in the “Rainy Lake 150” concert series is slated for tomorrow.

Upbeat roots music artist Little Miss Higgins will perform in front of the Fort Frances Museum starting at 6 p.m., economic development consultant Tannis Drysdale told town council at its regular meeting Monday night.

“We will have a concert on Thursday night,” she assured.

“In case of pouring rain, it will be held at the [Townshend Theatre].”

Drysdale advised residents to pay attention to social media or listen to the radio for last-minute updates if, for any reason, the concert is not going to be held on Scott Street.

Spectators are asked to bring their own lawn chairs if it goes ahead there.

The concert will be free—just like all of the concerts in the series.

The concert series, sponsored by “Ontario 150" and Tbaytel, will continue next Thursday (Sept. 21) with "Northern Artists' Night," showcasing various regional artists, followed by Daylin James and his ever-popular "Elvis Show” on Sept. 28.

The series then will conclude with a bang on Oct. 5, with a concert by “Pop Vegas” coinciding with the grand opening of the new Rainy Lake Square, which will be open to public by that time.

The grand opening will start at 5 p.m., with the concert to follow at 6 p.m.

Earlier that day, “Market Thursday” will be held in the new square for the first time.

And that Saturday (Oct. 7), there will be a special Thanksgiving market day there.

Drysdale noted this will be the first official “Market Saturday” at the square—an activity that will continue there next year and beyond.

“We were successful in getting funding from the Ministry of Agriculture,” she explained.

"So we were able to purchase, for the new market square, new tents for the merchants next year, lightweight tables, and some of the fencing that's required.

“But most importantly, some money to towards marketing in the United States and throughout Rainy River District to make us a real draw for folks to come to,” she stressed.

Anyone with questions about being a market vendor, or on anything else related to the Rainy Lake Square programming, can call 274-9621, e-mail ecdev@fortfrances.ca, or message “Rainy Lake Square” on Facebook.

In other economic development news, traffic was steady at the tourist information centre here this summer.

“We'll still crunching the numbers compared to last year but it looked like good, solid visitation again this year—somewhere between 25 and 60 folks every day,” noted Drysdale.

“I noticed in the logs this year a bit of a change, where some people were actually going to see the moose and coming to see other special events in the community,” she added.

"So there's a little bit more draw.

“Maybe that has something to do with the billboards we put up in the U.S.,” Drysdale said.

The centre was staffed by three students, who were paid “100 percent through government grants,” noted Drysdale.

The RRFDC also helped the local International Early Iron Car Club put together fundraising and promotional packages for the “Canadian Coasters" visit and "Show 'n Shine,” as it had done with the OFSAA tournament here earlier this year.

In both cases, the RRFDC saw the events as opportunities to increase tourism spending here.

Meanwhile, the “Go Local” program continues to be strong here. In the last three months, 45 percent of card carriers used their cards at local businesses.

Heading into its fourth year, Drysdale said “Go Local” has outlasted similar programs elsewhere, which only went as long as their government funding sustained them.

The one here has become self-sustaining.

It currently boasts 5,500 members who have racked up more than three million points in all.

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