Come have a Winter Blast in Mill River at Up West Winterfest 

Darlene Shea
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MILL RIVERThe citizens of West Prince and P.E.I. are being invited to join in the second annual Up West Winterfest, including the signature event – Winter Blast.

On Saturday, Jan. 18, get a Winter Blast in an outdoor concert and fireworks show, presented by O’Leary Castle Building Centre from 6-9 p.m. at Rodd Mill River Resort.

Featured performers will be Island entertainers Whitney Rose, Meaghan Blanchard and Dennis Ellsworth. 

“It’s great to see events like this happening in western P.E.I. The hope is to increase the number of activities happening in western P.E.I. in the coming years,” says event co-ordinator Courtney McCue.

Since releasing her self-titled debut record to rave reviews in November 2012, Whitney Rose’s name has been slowly seeping throughout Canada, winning over country music fans in every nook and cranny of Canada. Her style has been compared to the classic sounds of Patsy Cline, but with a fresh twist.

After touring extensively co-headlining with The Devin Cuddy Band, she got a chance to open for The Proclaimers and Sam Roberts. She has also done the summer festival circuit, sharing billing with Dwight Yoakam, Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney, the Dixie Chicks and various other big names. She even got to perform at the Cavendish Beach Country Music Festival.

Blanchard, a vibrant singer-songwriter, grew up in Hunter River. As a child, her natural vocal ability had her front and centre at many community gatherings, but she soon found her strength in writing songs and it wasn’t long before she was writing and performing all over P.E.I., Canada and beyond.

Her recorded “Changing Things”, her first collection of songs at the age of 18, received four Music P.E.I. awards and two ECMA nods. Blanchard’s second recording in 2011, “Chasin’ Lonely Again”, was named Country Recording of the Year at the ECMA awards in Charlottetown.

In January 2012, Blanchard appeared in the television special “The Songs of Gene MacLellan”, aired nationally on CBC. She just returned from Athens, Georgia, where she recorded her first full-length collection of songs with producer John Keane. “She’s Gonna Fly” was released in July 2013.

The Charlottetown-based Ellsworth is a prolific singer-songwriter. Lately he’s gotten into the rhythm of writing, recording and releasing an album a year for the past six years. In between records, he travels all over Canada and into the United States sining his songs and recently returned from another tour of the United Kingdom.

Ellsworth’s most recent recording, “Hazy Sunshine,” was produced by Skydiggers guitarist, Josh Finlayson. The result is a seamless blend of modern East Coast folk and rock and roll with shades of classic Americana, roots and country haunting the edges.

Up West Winterfest, which began Jan. 10 and runs until Jan. 19, features dozens of events in O’Leary, Alberton, Tignish and surrounding areas. This year, festival organizers partnered with P.E.I. 2014 and local communities to organize an even greater number of events to help celebrate this special year. Many of the events are geared to get people active and moving. Some are being held indoors while several will take place outside.

Advance tickets for the concert portion of the evening are $22.50 plus HST. Children 10 years and under get in for $10 plus HST. The fireworks, which wrap up the evening at 9:15 p.m., are free for everyone.

Tickets for the Signature Events can be purchased at various locations throughout the West Prince area as well as online at Details and schedules of the many events can also be found on the festival website.

Organizations: O’Leary Castle Building Centre, Rodd Mill River Resort, Dixie Chicks CBC

Geographic location: Canada, P.E.I., Mill River Hunter River Country Recording Charlottetown Athens, Georgia United States United Kingdom East Coast Leary Tignish West Prince

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