Nashville North returning to Stampede with safety precautions, virtual entry line and all-Canadian artists

Jun 17 2021

A canopy-style tent with open walls will aid airflow, and the usual long line of guests will be replaced with a digital queue

Stephanie Babych

Publishing date:Jun 17, 2021  •  June 17, 2021  •  3 minute read 

Construction continues on the Nashville North tent on June 14, 2021, for this year’s Calgary Stampede. PHOTO BY GAVIN YOUNG/POSTMEDIA

Nashville North will be back this summer with an all-Canadian lineup of country artists and several major changes meant to enhance safety. Calgary Stampede attendees ready for a dose of live music will be able to find the Nashville North stage next to the Grandstand this year, where a canopy-style tent with open walls will offer more space for distancing and airflow. And the usual long line of guests outside the tent will be replaced with a digital queue that lets people wander the grounds while waiting for their turn to enter.

“Once you’ve arrived at Stampede Park and you want to see one of the great bands at Nashville North, you can either text a number or scan a QR code with your phone that’ll put you into a virtual queuing system. You’ll be able to avoid any kind of lineup and move about the park,” Kyle Corner, manager of Stampede programming, said Thursday.

WaitWell co-founder Shannon Vander Meulen shows the status page of the digital queue app that will be used at the Calgary Stampede. PHOTO BY JANET PLISZKA/VISUAL HUES PHOTOGRAPHY

WaitWell co-founder Shannon Vander Meulen said the system was created to cut long lines at Alberta Registries during the pandemic, and has also been used by the University of Manitoba, mobile retailer Glentel and other registry offices.

“Rather than stand in line for three hours waiting to get into Nashville North, guests can wander the park, they can buy some mini-donuts and spend some money playing games,” said Vander Meulen.

“Grab a corndog and a lemonade and find a spot in the shade away from other people while you wait. We’re hoping it’ll help disperse people throughout the park because there is plenty of room, especially with capacity limits.”

Through WaitWell, attendees will be asked for their name, mobile number and the size of their group. They’ll be added to the virtual line and will be given the estimated wait time. A text will be sent letting them know when it’s their time to head to the tent.

“It can be hot waiting in line to get in, they can enjoy their time more and they can be safer because they won’t be in line with other people,” said Vander Meulen. “People can use their time the way they want to.”

Rapid COVID-19 tests and proof of vaccination are two additional precautions being considered for entrance into Nashville North, explained Corner. Safety plans will continue to be unveiled as Stampede officials make decisions based on recommendations from health experts.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said this is new territory for events in Canada but it’s not unheard of in the events industry internationally.

Brett Kissel is part of the all-Canadian lineup booked for Nashville North. PHOTO BY IAN KUCERAK/POSTMEDIA

“I’m very much in favour of erring on the side of caution and going forward with saying, ‘Look, you want to come to Nashville North, you have to show that you’ve been jabbed two weeks before, or you have to have the results of a rapid test,’ ” Nenshi said Thursday.

“I’m totally okay with that, we just have to figure out if this can work logistically.”

The Nashville North lineup released Thursday features nearly 40 Canadian country artists including Dean Brody, Brett Kissel, The Reklaws and the James Barker Band. It’s the biggest lineup in the venue’s history.

“It’s incredible to have an all-Canadian lineup and such phenomenal artists for this stage,” Corner said, adding that Stampede is thrilled to be reintroducing live music to Calgary.

One of Stampede’s other major music events, the Cowboys Music Festival, announced it would not return this year, choosing to instead wait until 2022.

—  With files from Madeline Smith

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Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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