Country Music Hall of Fame gala

Organizers hoping for biggest event ever

St. Stephen – Carson Leighton of Back Bay, a steel guitarist who was inducted into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012, will be the official host of next year’s gala induction celebration in St. Stephen.

The gala will take place at the Garcelon Civic center on Oct. 14.

Vivian Hicks, secretary of the NBCMHF, said the hall of fame, which was founded in 1983, is very pleased to be coming to St. Stephen.

She said each year the board asks a hall of fame recipient from the gala community or from nearby to be the official host.

Hicks said Leighton is one of just a few steel players in New Brunswick “and definitely one of the best.”

“There is a definite sense of excitement toward the gala event and we know that will lead to the most successful Hall of Fame Gala Event ever,” said Hicks.

St. Stephen Mayor Allan MacEachern said he is very pleased the NBCMHF is coming to St. Stephen. “I’m looking forward to having this event in our town,” said MacEachern.
Hicks said the board was very pleased to have Gary and Karen Sturgeon as the chairpersons for the local organizing committee.

“We’re on the ground running from now on,” said Gary Sturgeon with a laugh. “Now the work begins. We want to make this the best and biggest one ever.”

Sturgeon said the idea is to spread the celebrations over two or three days, not just the one Saturday night gala.

Charlotte-Campobello MLA John Ames, who is also the Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Culture for the province, said this is a “fantastic opportunity” for St. Stephen, which will bring people from throughout the province and beyond to visit “The Middle of Everywhere.”

“People will be staying at our motels and inns in Charlotte County and eating in our restaurants and shopping in our shops. These are exciting times in our region, and this is just another example of that,” said Ames.

He noted country music has a long history in New Brunswick and that the gala induction ceremony is a chance to honor talented individuals for their music, for achievements in their art and musical genre “as well as for the contribution that they have made to the cultural fabric of our province.”

Sturgeon said he and the local committee are very pleased to have the opportunity to bring such a prestigious event to St. Stephen and noted the annual gala is attended by people from throughout the Maritimes. He expects next year’s event, because of St. Stephen’s proximity to the United States, will draw many country music aficionados from Maine.
Sturgeon said the committee is looking for volunteers to help it organize the gala, which is expecting to host between 400-800 people.

Anyone wishing to help can contact Sturgeon at gwstur@gmail.com

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Kathy Bockus
Journalist Kathy Bockus is based in St. Stephen and has worked for The Saint Croix Courier as a general news reporter and feature writer for the past 15 years. She began her lengthy newspaper career in 1974 with a daily in Saint John. Bockus says she always jokes being a reporter is a licence to be nosey, but firmly believes that everyone has a story to tell. She can be contacted at 321-0759.