Country Thunder Saskatchewan: the place for red solo cups, sun burns, and — of course — country music. But it’s none of those things that keep Michelle Johnston and her husband, Russell, coming back year after year — it’s the friendship.
The Johnstons, along with Terri and Paul Spencer, have been going to the Craven music festival since it switched from rock to country music back in 2005, which is when they first met.
“We just happened to pull in and park beside (the Spencers) down in general (camping), and we’ve camped together ever since,” said Michelle Johnston.
It was 12 years ago when the two couples met, and they still keep in touch — even after the music festival ends.
“We’ve become wonderful friends,” said Johnston. “We’re from Macklin and they’re from Regina, and we’ve gone to each other’s homes a couple times to visit, outside of Craven.”
As a veteran to the country music festival, Johnston has had the chance to watch it evolve. This year, her only complaint is how the standing-only area by the stage — also known as the “gopher run” — is now half the size it used to be, due to paid seating.
“I liked it before how everyone who came here had the same option to get up right at the front (of the stage),” she explained. “(The new gopher run) is actually a major pet peeve. I don’t like it at all.”
Gopher run aside, Johnston added that the upgrades to main street are a nice touch.
“The fact that it’s paved and that they have a different variety of food now, instead of the same stuff they’ve had almost every other year, is great,” she said.
Country Thunder 2017 might not be over, but the Johnstons said, with the Spencers by their side, they can’t wait to hunker down in the same old campsite for round 13 of the country music festival.
— With files from Jessika Guse