Thursday, July 11, 2024

Nashville comes to the Pontiac

Over a thousand people showed up to enjoy the annual Fort Coulonge/Mansfield Country Festival at the Centre Des Draveurs arena over the weekend.
The festival, organized by Fort Coulonge residents Phil Denault and Carole Faubert, was a chance for people from the Pontiac to enjoy musical talent from all over the country.
“This is our seventh edition of the festival, and it keeps growing and growing every year,” said Denault, who has over 40 years of experience as a musician and has worked with the likes of Shania Twain and Kenny Rogers.
“I always say I bring Nashville to the Pontiac for one weekend. And if you . . .

look at the stage, it’s a big stage, great production, great sounds. We turned the arena into a concert hall for four days.”
The event featured performances from over 40 artists, giving country music lovers more than their fill of foot-stomping country classics.
Local vendors and food trucks set up along the side of the arena, and over 200 camping trailers parked on land next to it, that was lent to the festival by Phillip Kenney.
The event also featured performances from local musicians Nancy Denault (Phil’s sister) and Calumet Island’s own Ben Chabot.
Chabot got his start playing at local bars such as Mickey Creek in Campbell’s Bay and Café Downtown in Fort Coulonge and is now performing for the second year in a row at the festival.
“I started performing when I was about 15, I think,” Chabot said. “At first it was very challenging, because I’m a very shy person. But I found it as a way out,” Chabot said.
Chabot performed on the big stage on Saturday evening, which, according to him, is one of the biggest slots at the event.
“I’m honoured. He [Denault] was kind enough to give me a good spot, especially Saturday at seven o’clock,” Chabot said.
Chabot explained that performing has also been a learning experience for him. He said throughout his musical career he has learnt to be more present on stage and has taken to practicing simple things like talking to the crowd in between songs.
“The way I describe performing in front of big crowds is it’s kind of like a blank,” Chabot said. “Because I’m nervous, but as soon as I get up on stage and see the crowd, it’s almost like my brain shifts into a different person, and then I get comfortable.”
Denault plans to continue organizing the Fort Coulonge/Mansfield festival for at least another three years in an effort to reach a 10-year milestone in 2027.