Sunfest opens with great shows despite once-a-decade summer storm

Lake Cowichan’s Sirup family gather for Sunfest’s opening night in a party mood despite threatening skies. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lindsay Elzinga enjoys a moment with her fans. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lindsay Elzinga sings on the Sunfest Main Stage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lindsay Elzinga sings on the Sunfest Main Stage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lindsay Elzinga sings on the Sunfest Main Stage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lindsay Elzinga sings on the Sunfest Main Stage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lindsay Elzinga sings on the Sunfest Main Stage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lindsay Elzinga thanks her fans for coming out to see her at Sunfest. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lindsay Elzinga sings on the Sunfest Main Stage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
A happy group of Sunfest girls is enjoying the Lindsay Elzinga show. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
It’s a proud moment for John Elzinga, centre, as his daughter performs onstage at Sunfest. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lindsay Elzinga, who grew up in Lake Cowichan, greets her friends and family from the Main Stage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Shawn Austin shakes hands with his many fans at Sunfest. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Shawn Austin goes to the side stage, to the delight of the big crowd gathered there. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Shawn Austin gets his set in just before the worst of Thursday’s rain at Sunfest. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
As soon as Shawn Austin sang his first note, there was a rush towards the Main Stage at Sunfest Thursday. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
As soon as Shawn Austin sang his first note, there was a rush towards the Main Stage at Sunfest Thursday. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Shawn Austin is a real crowd pleaser at Sunfest Thursday night. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
The crowd just got bigger and bigger as Shawn Austin performed. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
The crowd just got bigger and bigger as Shawn Austin performed. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Shawn Austin, who said Sunfest is as close to his home as he’ll get this summer, is happy to greet fans at Laketown Ranch. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Bryce Allan sings at The Flats stage at Sunfest on Thursday. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Bryce Allan sings at The Flats stage at Sunfest on Thursday. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Bryce Allan sings at The Flats stage at Sunfest on Thursday. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
It’s a fun night when friends get together for a party at Sunfest, especially when their friend, Lindsay Elzinga is on the Main Stage. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Fans hurry to get a picture as Jason Aldean’s two big transport trucks arrive Thursday night with equipment for his Friday show. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Sunfest 2019 opened Thursday, Aug. 1 with some great shows, despite a late-evening downpour from a once-a-decade summer storm.

Lindsay Elzinga, who boasted to the audience that she “grew up just down the street” from Laketown Ranch, drew a big crowd of friends and family so her 5:20 p.m. performance, which turned into a huge block party where almost everyone knew each other and newcomers were just invited in to join the fun.

Once she left the stage, two huge transport trucks rolled into the restricted area, bearing the name “Jason Aldean” and serving notice that Friday’s headliner was bringing tons of equipment with him.

After a break for a performance by Bryce Allan at The Flats, Shawn Austin took control of the big crowd from his first note on the Main Stage. Fans rushed the pit area, trying to get close to the stage and the crowd, now pouring into the main concert bowl, hurried to find their seats or get a good spot in the general admission area.

Austin’s set of songs he’d written, and those he wished he’d written, went down really well with the crowd, kicking off the big holiday weekend, where the weather could only get better. He managed to complete his set before the real downpour started but fans of later acts: Cody Johnson and Randy Houser had to deal with some genuine Lake Cowichan rain, which arrived a bit earlier than it usually does.

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