When Paul Lomheim answered the phone a week ago he assumed it was another call about playing a musical gig.
He was wrong.
Instead it was the Prince Albert Winter Festival organizing committee, who wanted him to be their 2018 honourary chair. Lomheim, a long-time Country North Show producer, was more than happy to accept.
“Every day I think about it,” he chuckled, shortly after the official announcement at Northern Lights Casino on Monday. “Last night I woke up at 3:30 in the morning thinking about it, but it’s a very nice feeling. I was honoured that they would acknowledge what I’ve done over the years.”
In total, Lomheim has produced nearly 20 Country North Shows for the Winter Festival and worked with a variety of talented musicians such as Randle Currie, Rod Janzen and Donny Parenteau.
Lomheim met most of his lifelong friends through Country North, and has fond memories of performances in front of a packed Exhibition Centre Crowd.
“I remember after the show … seeing performers at the end of the show crying, because it’s all done with,” he said.
“It’s bitter-sweet, the last show, and I remember one year I thought, when I die, I hope there’s a Country North Show in heaven, and I hope they’ll let me produce it.”
As a behind the scenes guy, Lomheim is used to seeing other people in the spotlight. However, he’s looking forward to a temporary change for next year’s festival. He’s also glad to follow in the footsteps of Wes Stubbs, who was the inaugural honouary chair last year.
Current festival president Barry Mihilewicz said picking Lomheim was an easy choice given his past involvement.
“We were tossing around some different names, and of course, what … we look at is somebody who’s been involved in the community and has been involved in the Winter Festival, and Paul certainly fits the bill on both of those in a very, very big way.”
Being honourary chair means Lomheim will have time to visit all the Winter Festival venues, something he was rarely able to do while producing Country North. Now, he’s eager to take advantage of his new freedom.
“Every year I try attending several events, so I’ll try setting a record,” he chuckled.
Lomheim will be recognized at the second annual Tux and Toques Gala at the Ches Leach Lounge on Jan. 20.
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