Heat is on at country Sunfest in Duncan

Sunshine and country music came together nicely at Sunfest on Friday during the second of four days at the popular Duncan music festival.

About 12,500 people were at the Cowichan Exhibition Society Fairgrounds on Friday, with a further 15,000 expected tonight for a performance by the festival’s headliner, American Idol judge Keith Urban.

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The festival got underway Thursday with featured sets by Victoria performer Jesse Roper and South Carolina’s Lee Brice.

The temperature, which crept near 30 C at its peak, kept the majority of revelers undercover for most of Friday afternoon.

Perhaps they were taking it easy after a raucous opening night, which was attended by 10,000 fans, according to organizers.

The mood picked up after 5 p.m. and fans slowly came out of hiding as the sun began to set.

Friday night’s top-billed performer, U.S. country star Joe Nichols of Brokenheartsville fame, was scheduled to take the main stage at 10 p.m.

With no breeze or cool air to speak of, the open field felt considerably hotter than thermometers indicated.

Further adding to the atmosphere was the 1,500-site campground, where revelers went looking for ways to beat the heat, from inflatable pools to impromptu water gun fights. Clothes were in short supply as a result, leading to an incalculable number of sunburns.

“It’s hot, but it’s so fun we haven’t really noticed,” said Tyler Brophy, 23, of Parksville. With a campsite full of friends and acquaintances nearby, his was one of many that seemed designed for maximum enjoyment though the weekend.

Elsewhere, shrieks could be heard over the idea of Keith Urban appearing tonight.

“We can’t wait!” friends Charlotte Henry and Britt Selway said of Nicole Kidman’s heartthrob husband, who is making his first-ever Vancouver Island appearance.

Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett are the big draws at Sunday’s finale.

Sunfest has been crowned the top country music event in the province, which makes for an electric environment.

With three stages timed to offer music in continuous intervals, the country-flavoured good times never cease.

But there’s plenty of fun on the 62-acre site for those not of the country persuasion — a fact that helps to explain the boom in attendance.

From a beach-themed area complete with volleyball court, a slip-and-slide, and logger sports to a marketplace featuring everything from vendors to line-dancing lessons, there was no shortage of activity away from the stage.

The heat could be an issue through the weekend, however. With no respite in sight, attendees should exercise caution with regards to the weather.

After all, they call it Sunfest for a reason.

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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