‘Big Day Out’ makes big return to Seager Wheeler Heritage Farm

Seager Wheeler Heritage Farm will be celebrating their first “Big Day Out” since COVID-19 pandemic regulations were lifted by throwing a live music festival with local eats, craft beer and cider. 

On Saturday, July 16, five local music acts will be providing entertainment starting at 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to listen to the musicians and relax in front of the historic 1925 house.

Maker’s Malt, a malting operation based out of Rosthern, will also be providing local products during the event.

“[Big Day Out] started a number of years ago when I was walking around doing maintenance on the yard. I just thought, you know, this would be a great place to do some music one evening,” said Seager Wheeler Farm Vice Chair, Larry Epp.

“One local group came to us and asked if they could hold one of their CD release events on the yard and that became very successful. They had a number of other acts that came at the same time,” said Epp. “That led to us having our own event.” 

The historical farm and orchard is located near Rosthern, Sask., around 75 kilometres South of Prince Albert. The original homestead of Dr. Seager Wheeler, the “Wheat King”, has been a heritage site since the early 1990’s; celebrating its 25th year in 2021.

Wheeler was not only a significant contributor to the sustainable agriculture of the prairies, he was also a musician who participated in much of Rosthern’s early musical heritage. 

Epp said that the music festival is their way of trying to keep that history alive. 

The “Big Day at the Farm” music festival ran for two years in 2018 and 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all public events. Epp said this is their attempt at reviving what they hope will continue as an annual event.

“We were just starting to build momentum and then we kind of got shut down,” he said. “It would really feel good to have people in the yard again. I think we have a good variety of musicians for people to come and listen to.”

Almost all of the musical acts are local to Rosthern, with the exception of Last Birds, who are from the Estevan area.

Last Birds is the offspring of Canadian Folk Music Award nominated artists Lindsay Arnold and Mike Davis. The couple’s lyrics of aging love and other hardships are delivered with haunting vocal harmonies and acoustic guitars. 

Kiefer and Amanda Paul, who reside in Wakaw, are a returning favourite, says Epp. The duo performed at the last “Big Day Out” in 2019 and “people really liked what they heard from those two.”

Golden Hour is composed of three women, Dayna Stefaniuk, Kathleen Regier, and Kenna Forrester, who attended school in Rosthern together and are heavily influenced by nostalgic folk and country music.

Gopher Broke Orchestra! plays dance-style country blues and prairie classics, the trio are self-described as “a taste of days gone by.”

The MacMillans, James and his wife Sarah, have been making music for nearly two decades and have done a number of music events for local causes. The MacMillans were Rosthern residents until recently, when Dr. James MacMillan stopped his medical practice to take specialized training in Saskatoon. 

“Our last ‘Big Day Out’ in 2019 was an absolutely beautiful day for the people to come sit and listen to music,” said Epp. “It’s one of those things that, hopefully next year, we really go on to do bigger and better things.”

Tickets can be purchased for $30 per person or $75 per family by emailing seagerwheelerfarm@gmail.com or by calling 306-232-5959. 

A number of other events will be taking place this summer at the Seager Wheeler Farm that shouldn’t be missed, including a paint day with Saskatoon artist Cam Forrester, a Harvest Festival with threshing demonstrations, and visiting the U-Pick Orchard for a chance to take home a free pail of berries in exchange for one pail picked for the Farm.

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