The grand opening ceremony for the new centre will take place on July 1, and members of Stompin’ Tom Connors’ family are expected to be in attendance.
“It was just fitting that (the grand opening) would be Canada Day,” says Anne Arsenault, general manager of Tignish Initiatives, the developer of the project, “because he was such an iconic Canadian.”
Noting that the late singer and song-writer was a true believer in Canadian music and song-writers, Arsenault said the long-awaited Stompin’ Tom Centre will reflect that in the musicians it attracts.
Tignish Initiatives has been working towards the creation of a Stompin’ Tom Centre for nearly two decades. It nearly happened two years ago but some anticipated funding fell through and the whole project was sent back to the drawing board.
Stompin’ Tom spent his adolescent years in Skinners Pond before setting out on a hitchhiking journey that would launch his Canadian Country music career. The old school house on the grounds of the new Stompin’ Tom Centre is where he attended school. He lived in the house next door.
Well known entertainers and personal friends of Stompin’ Tom, JP Cormier and Dave Gunning, will take part in the Canada Day commemoration ceremony.
That ceremony will be followed by a flag-raising ceremony, but it’s more than a Canada Day event, Arsenault points out.
“The flag-raising will actually be carried out every day at the same time while that centre is open,” Arsenault revealed. “It’s going to become the legacy of that grand-opening.”
An outdoor concert that afternoon and one on Sunday, July 2, from 2 to 7 p.m. will be part of the first-annual Stompin’ Tom festival. The events are also blended into the annual Tignish Irish Moss Festival.
Arsenault said the Stompin’ Tom Festival will likely shift to a larger venue, the Bluegrass Festival grounds in Tignish, in subsequent years but, in keeping with the grand opening of the centre, the first one is being held on the centre’s grounds.
Construction of the new centre is progressing well. Warren’s Carpentry is the general contractor. Renovations have also been carried out at the schoolhouse, homestead and barn on the property.
Tignish Initiatives is aiming for a soft opening on June 19. The facilities will be open to the general public from then on. She’s anticipating some evening concerts and dinner theatre performances being held prior to the grand opening. The dinner theatre will be held on Tuesday and Thursday nights from June until the end of September. There will be indoor seating for about 100. The kitchen and gift shop will also open in June.