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After many hours of planning, this year's Winkler Harvest Festival begins its festivities today.

One of the big drivers for the festival planning was the entertainment, explains Winkler Director of Recreation, Culture, and Tourism, Deb Penner, which is why she says the planning committee wanted to include four stages this year.

"For a while, I've had this vision in my head that we should focus on the entertainment of the festival and grow on that because I think we do it pretty well."

The four venues include the main stage, the kid's area, the Country Fair stage, and the Culture tent.

At the main stage, tonight's headliner is Night Fever, a tribute band specializing in the music of Bryan Adams, as well as the Bee Gees. The country music group, Restless Heart, will hit the stage Saturday. Southern gospel quartet, the Ball Brothers will perform Sunday night, and the evening will end with Colton Dixon. Sunday morning's Harvest Festival Community Worship Service's guest speaker will feature Humboldt Broncos' Chaplain, Sean Brandow.

hfest adv3Each stage will have live entertainment all weekend long. The kid's tent will host Safari Jeff, and the Country Fair stage will feature several novelty activities including bingo, a trivia contest, dance lessons, pet fashion and talent show, and a burping contest.

The addition of the Culture Tent's stage was in conjunction with Culture Fest joining the Harvest Festival.

Culture Fest had taken place in Bethel Heritage park for several years and was becoming too large for the area. Penner notes the Harvest Committee invited Regional Connections to join them, welcoming them to the festival grounds at the cultural tent where world-class entertainers from Mexico and Argentina will be performing. Along with these two groups, various other cultural performers will share their culture's songs, music, and dance in the Culture Tent.

Another new addition at this year's festival was the change from a strongman competition, to CrossFit.

Taking place Saturday afternoon, Penner says both her and strongman organizer Brent Hamn felt it was time for a new competition to take its place.

"When he mentioned CrossFit, we thought okay that's a new thing that's happening lots of people are involved in it. It would be really fun for people to watch these athletes, their competitiveness, and their skills."

Turnover for food vendors was high this year. Penner says regulars will still be on the ground, but people will be wonderfully surprised with the new additions this year.

Penner is excited about the new additions but encourages people to stay safe as they enjoy this year's activities.

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