St. Stephen Chosen to Host 2017 Country Music Hall of Fame Gala


By Rob Patry


St. Stephen has won the bid as the host town for the 2017 New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame (NBCMHF) Gala and Induction Ceremony. The announcement was made at this year’s Gala located in Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick. Alex Reid, St. Stephen Events Development Coordinator, confirmed: “This is huge news both for St. Stephen and Calais. It has been in the works for quite some time, and has stayed a top priority. We are finally able to showcase the Garcelon Civic Centre to the rest of the province.” The NBCMHF was founded in 1983 by late country music pioneer Aubrey Hanson. Its purpose is to celebrate and honor artists in New Brunswick who have made a significant contribution to country music. The first Gala and Induction Ceremony was held at the Sportsman Club Exhibition Grounds in Fredericton. Subsequent ceremonies were held there until 1996, when it was decided to relocate to various towns and cities within New Brunswick in order to bring more notoriety and visibility for the Hall of Fame. 

The attraction to hold the NBCMHF in Charlotte County was a joint effort between every level of the municipal government. “I’m sure many larger urban areas threw their proposals into the ring,” stated Reid. The designated date of the event is October 14, 2017, and gives all local businesses on both sides of the river ample time to prepare and promote. The final choice came down to the NBCMHF’s appreciation of community pride, the proper logistical time, and the Garcelon’s ability to host the potential number of people who may attend. Attendance at the 2016 Gala was well over four hundred. The amenities offered by the Garcelon Civic Centre include the presentation hall for the main event, as well as food and bar services, meeting and break out rooms, and full scale waiting areas for both audience and participants. 

The latest upgrades to the Centre’s ice rink were a major breakthrough when negotiations were underway for picking the site. According to the Town of St. Stephen Mayor, Allan MacEachern, “This opportunity is in large part because of the recent addition of the new ice cover at the Garcelon arena. Being able to quickly change and prepare for such an event, and still keep the ice intact for the Aces, was a game changer. The NBCMHF’s Gala will open doors for many more opportunities on both sides of the border.”

As with each important organized occasion coming to town being held at the Garcelon or at any other location, it will bring in more new business. “I am hopeful for a big turnout which will help influence more events for all to enjoy in the future.” Mayor MacEachern’s enthusiasm wants to spread over the river, as well. When describing the unique bond the two communities have, he specified: “We are each half a circle in a whole community. That is what we are. A border town. And as a border town, we can both benefit. Folks coming to town will need a place to sleep, eat, and shop. This is a chance for St. Stephen and Calais to pull together and support this one great experience. Ultimately, what develops for both Charlotte County and Washington County is awareness. Awareness is a valuable commodity.”