Goodbyes are tough. Most would agree that a final farewell is never easy. But when you have fond memories and laughter to reminisce, it makes the goodbye a little bit easier. And so, the Shriners are ready to give fans one final knock-your-socks-off, wouldn’t-miss-it-for-the-world jamboree on Sunday, July 29, at Bridgewater Masonic Hall at 216 North St. at 1 p.m. Proceeds will go to the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Montreal. Tickets are $6.
Producer Sharon Rhyno recalls that they’ve been putting on the benefit concerts for 20 years and says she’s never considered stopping.
“It’s so rewarding. I just love the feeling of knowing that you can help a child in need, and have a good time doing it.” Never one to look for recognition for the hours of work she’s put into raising money for the cause, Rhyno’s joy comes from seeing the work the Shriners do first-hand.
“When you see a child that’s been helped, or see a family that’s been brought from another country to help their child, knowing that you’re contributing to making that happen is such a fulfilling and satisfying feeling. You can bring joy to someone’s life, bring a smile to someone’s face, no matter who you are. Everyone can do some good in their own way.
“We’ve been so lucky to have the support of not only the performers, but also the fans who’ve been so loyal. There have been too many good memories and laughs to count in this building. Hopefully we’ll be able to find a new place to make memories soon enough,” says Rhyno.
And who’s going to be on hand to give this building one last rockin’ good time? Dale Verge and Doin Country will be stopping by. Hailing from Port Mouton and from the Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Verge would rather sing than talk.
“We just love doing these shows. I could sing and entertain for hours for such a good cause. Whatever we can do to help the kids is worth doing. The crowds are so good at these shows, it’s always a good time. We can’t wait.”
Valley recording artist Ruth Manning and the Prospectors will also be on stage, and certainly not for the first time. These long-time supporters fondly recall shows gone by.
“I have special memories of doing the impersonator shows and playing the role of Patsy Cline,” says Manning. “That was one of the first shows we did at the hall I think. We also love the warm, friendly, appreciative crowds and the fact that it’s always a packed house. ”
Speaking of the impersonator shows, Manning isn’t the only one who especially enjoyed them. David Burbine, rock-steady devotee of making these shows a success, says those are some of his favourite memories too, although it’s too hard to pick just one. “We love helping the kids, and we always have a good time while we do it,” says Burbine. “We carry on with each other and the crowds love it. They feel like they’re part of the show, not just sitting there watching it and that makes us feel good.” A show staple and crowd favourite for many years, David Burbine & Traditional Country wouldn’t dream of missing the last one at this hall.
Tancook Island native Little Buddy Hirtle will also be stopping by. In the fall of 2012, Hirtle performed at the North Street hall after the release of his CD Buddy’s Best. “Music is the best medicine,” says Hirtle.
And of course, there’s Reggie Tanner. He’s everywhere from emceeing the Shriner benefit concerts, to lending his voice and announcing for the South Shore Bluegrass Music Association. But it takes a special kind of talent to be an emcee, and they’re often overlooked. A member of Unity Masonic Lodge for the past 18 years, Tanner has been a Shriner for the past 16. “Someone asked me if I wanted to join the Shrine because it was the fun part of Masonry,” says Tanner. “So, I did.” Starting in the emcee game in the ’90s by announcing at the International Dory Races in Lunenburg, he’s become a favourite fixture at many events, particularly the Shriner benefit concerts. “The Shriners aren’t just a lot of fun, they also do fantastic work for children and that’s important.” When asked what his favourite thing about being an emcee at the variety shows is, after a pause for thought, Tanner said, “I have a lot of favourite things, but I like being able to raise money for the children and work the crowd.”
Although this is the last show at the Bridgewater Masonic Hall, the Shriners are more than happy to keep on keepin’ on with the benefit concerts; they just need a space to make it happen. If you know of a venue that would generously lend their facilities, contact Harry or Sharon Rhyno at 902-543-9897 or contact any local Shriner.
All proceeds raised from the show are sent to the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Montreal. They deliver treatment to children with orthopaedic conditions, burns or cleft palates (to name a few). If you’d like to learn more about the Shriners Hospital in Montreal, visit www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/montreal.