A small farm town is making a name for itself with the Raymore Summer Slam, a fundraiser that brought relief to tornado devastated families and donated to the town swimming pool.
Raymore is like many farming communities. Looking down Main Street you see the old grain elevator. It’s walking distance from the town hall, across the rail road tracks.
The town population is 650 and everyone seems to know everyone. The people are friendly, welcoming, and eager to share their stories and talk about their community.
What sets this small Saskatchewan town apart from the rest is the Raymore Summer Slam.
The Raymore Summer Slam is a fundraising event held during August long weekend. It is three days of live-music, slow-pitch, camping, food and more.
What began as a way to raise funds for four community members affected by a tornado, in 2010, has become a successful and popular event that raises money for the community. The tornado fundraiser raised $100, 000 and $25, 000 was given to each family.
“We held a fundraiser for the local farmers in the area that took big losses” Raymore Entertainment Fund (REF) committee member Darcy Koncz said, “then figured if we could put that together in a short time then we should maybe do some bigger planning and make it a bigger event.”
The event started out in 2011 with one band and two days of slow-pitch.
The eighth annual Raymore Summer Slam has evolved into three days of live music with a slow-pitch tournament of 20-26 teams and hundreds of campers. It starts Friday night and runs until the early hours of Monday morning.
The Raymore Summer Slam does more than draw big crowds each year, the event creates a lot of fundraising.
The event provides opportunities for multiple groups within the community to fundraise. Groups raise money by running the bar, the gates, canteen, 50/50 ticket sales, the suppers on Saturday and Sunday as well as the Pancake breakfast.
The fundraiser put a lot of work into the community.
“The group has done an awful lot to improve our sports grounds” says attendee Lorne Horvath.
“We put all new permanent fencing in, lights, two permanent bathroom facilities, some sheds…baseball diamonds, and we’ve cleaned everything up and expanded the sports grounds into a useable facility again.” REF committee member Aaron Miller said,
The Raymore Summer Slam also donated $10-15 000 to help build the Richardson Pioneer Community Water Park in Raymore.
“Just all around there’s been a lot of money fundraised here in Raymore through the Raymore Summer Slam.” Said Miller.
A professional stage is brought in each year and transforms a grassy open field into a concert setting. There is a beer garden set up along with a huge tent over picnic tables and an open area for the camp site.
The live-music begins at 5:30 p.m. and the bands play until 2:30 a.m. each night.
Over the years the Raymore Summer Slam has hosted many bands and artists including The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Pritchett, Charlie Major, Jess Moskaluke, High Valley, April Wine, Harlequin and many more
“We usually see anywhere from eight to ten bands throughout the weekend here in Raymore between the three nights.” Miller said.
“It’s a big music country event that’s been putting the town on the map for eight years” Koncz said “each year we’ve had good success with it and lots of people are coming out from all over the place…that doesn’t happen in small town Saskatchewan everywhere.”
“The entertainment was, I would say, top-notch. We had Country classic band Blackhawk here on Sunday night and Doc Walker Saturday night.” Miller said “Lots of people actually commented it was probably one of our best events to date.
“One lucky thing we’ve always had is good weather that weekend so we’ve been very fortunate.”
There is a supper Saturday and Sunday night and a pancake breakfast Sunday morning as well.
“There’s lots to do during the weekend, [the] brand new swimming pools located right up there too so it gives people an opportunity to kind of have some fun in Raymore while they’re here.” Said Miller.
With the increase in activities and entertainment the number of campers has also grown to around two to three hundred.
“It started out with probably only a few campers that showed up for the first year and then now the grounds are filled every year with the campers [and] over 1000 people in attendance” Koncz said.
“I’ve attended every year, it’s like a mini Craven.” Said Horvath. “The entertainment has gotten to be more each year… they always have some relatively big names.
“They did display tractors one day this year maybe we could do something like that again, maybe a car show.”