To support the 4-H clubs of Alberta and showcase the talents of its young members, ATB Financial held two spirited campaigns in this province, for the third consecutive year. One was a video contest titled “4-H is great!”, aimed at choosing the Alberta community that would ‘win’ a Gord Bamford benefit concert, the proceeds going to its 4-H club: the Westerose ATB agency won. Its video actually won by one vote, through the Facebook voting process, the second-place finalist being Drumheller.
The other ATB-sponsored challenge was a Song Contest, to decide who among the competing 4-H singers would be the opening act for Gord Bamford. Two winners shared the honor: a duet called “From Nowhere”, Chelsea Heaslip (20) and Morgan McAloon (17), two talented and lovely young cousins hailing from Calgary and the Hamlet of Pollockville respectively, and Quinci Jones, a soft-spoken 15-year-old Calgary songbird and a member of the Olds 4-H Beef Club.
The concert was held at the Lakedell Ag Centre, but first, Gord Bamford met with a large contingent of regional 4-H members, for a mentoring session: with other clubs’ members also in attendance, clad in their club T-shirts (Lakedell’s bright green T-shirts were evident in their large numbers!), Lakedell 4-H members filled row upon row, excited and obviously fascinated by the musical celebrity before them… Wearing a white and green 4-H jersey, seated next to a blue ATB Financial banner and two large posters of himself handsome under a cowboy hat, Gord was cheerful and articulate: he shared how being a member of the Lacombe 4-H club kept him challenged and away from trouble.
Gord Bamford was born in Australia and moved to Lacombe with his mom when he was just a boy: his Alberta relatives are cattle farmers, and he loved growing up in that environment. After Gord shared some anecdotes about how much 4-H still means to him, an ATB vice-president of Community Initiatives, led the question-and-answer period. This was a lively and interesting conversation, with many questions fired at Gord: Little Miss Mackenzie, a Thorsby schoolgirl, was particularly inquisitive and asked “Why did you decide to become a singer?”: Gord answered that he always sang pretty well, and as he entered a contest when he was in grade 2 and won, he got to sing on the radio: although he praised the value of trades in today’s society, he said he tried a few and wasn’t very good at them, so he tried singing, and with a lot of hard work, he got where he is today! After he ‘aged out’ of 4-H, he continued with sports: he loves hockey and baseball, and has many friends who are professional athletes.
One of the youths’ questions was if Gord was a cattle farmer himself: he replied that not so long ago, he bought a bred heifer (a pregnant young cow), and that was the start of his herd! Another interesting fact was that this November 15, the day of the concert, was also his 10th wedding anniversary. On behalf of the Pipestone Flyer Team, this writer wishes him and his wife many more happy anniversaries!
Gord also shared that many of the skills he learned in 4-H have been useful during his adult years: he added with a chuckle that he always did well at shows (his outgoing personality, perhaps?), and that he had to do chores to earn money to buy his 4-H steers… Gord is now a dad of two girls and a boy, aged 8, 6 and 3. Another question was about who inspired this gifted singer and composer: he replied that his Uncle Gord (after whom he was named) who helped raise him, his mom and sisters were all role models for him. Another fact that fascinated many of the guests is that recently, Gord attended a conference in Nashville, reuniting 200 of the best country songwriters… in the world!
Gord described the “Gord Bamford Foundation” that raised $1 Million in the past five years and shared it with various charities, including Ronald Macdonald House in Edmonton and the Make-A-Wish Foundation: this foundation also focuses on the needs of smaller communities.
Bamford obviously has a tender spot for all children. His relationship with the 4-H organisation is based on personal experience: Gord strongly believes that 4-H clubs provide a great service to rural children. ATB Financial, through its Community Initiatives, is dedicated to developing what is best for the communities it services, and this includes the 4-H movement.
At this Gord Bamford benefit concert, the Lakedell 4-H Lighthorse and Beef clubs were well represented by dozens of its members and their families: more fundraising took place during the concert, in the form of a 50-50 Raffle and a Couch Raffle, where a lucky family got to sit right in front of the stage, and took home a beautiful 4-H embroidered blanket: interestingly, both raffles raised an identical sum of $750! Another successful fundraising endeavour was a group of 17 Lakedell 4-H members who offered their hard-working services that sold for… $1,650!
The president of the Lighthorse Club was Leanne Snellen, a dynamic and lovely farmer of Millet whose grand-son Noah was noticed by Bamford, and was invited to join him on stage, along with a long-haired little girl: these 3 year-olds, grooving to the music, were presented with a blue guitar (a gift!) by the kind-hearted country music star.
The winners of the song contest performed two songs each, and displayed a confidence and talent that was inspiring and awesome. The Bamford concert was fast-paced and wonderful, as Gord played his guitar and was joined by six highly-talented musicians: Robin Pelletier (guitar and mandolin) and Chad Melchert (on percussion) have performed in the Leduc region in the past, with other country artists. On acquiring new band members, Gord shared: “The show grows, so the team has to grow also!”
At the end of the concert, the proceeds of this benefit concert, in the form of a cheque for $17,500, were presented to the Lakedell 4-H Club and will be shared with other non-profit groups in the area. In this inspired campaign, ATB Financial has successfully supported two causes that touch the hearts of many in Rural Alberta: the 4-H movement and the future of country music! Gord Bamford is an active player in this, as he shares his talent and his heart with this worthwhile mission.