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Suzie Vinnick and Downchild Blues Band at Red Deer Memorial Centre Red Deer Wednesday


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Suzzie Vinnick

Downchild Blues Band a natural progression for Suzie Vinnick

By Rob Gilgan

For local folks that caught her in one of her house concerts of a few years back, Suzie Vinnick’s appearance with the Downchild Blues Band will be a refreshing memory. For the rest of us? A brand new treat. The Saskatoon native, who now calls the Niagara region home, is thrilled to be back on the road, in western Canada, and opening for this landmark band.

“I’ve known them for years,” Vinnick explains, and while she’s never shared a stage with them before, it feels like a natural progression for her. Originally, she was booked to open for the band in Ottawa and when the promoter learned she would be touring western Canada this fall, at the same time as Downchild, the decision was made to add her to the whole western tour. She’ll appear solo at the Memorial Centre in Red Deer on October 30, warming up the crowd for Donnie Walsh and the boys.

Vinnick is touring in support of her most recent album, Shake the Love Around, a 12 song set released in March of 2018 that’s left reviewers scrambling to find new words to express how well this artist showcases the diversity of the blues genre. The album’s title comes from the lyrics of All IWanna Do, a song she wrote with Steve Strongman, one of several collaborations on the disc.

Another, Drift Away, was written years ago, with Matt Andersen. “I would perfrom it at some of my shows and often, people would come up and comment on how it spoke to them,” she says, “It happened often enough, I reached out to Matt and asked if he’d be alright with me including it on Shake the Love Around and he gave his blessing.” Drift Away is one of those blues tunes that’s uplifting and validating. “When you’re going through a tough time, just breathe, you know,” Vinnick says, describing the song’s essence.

While Shake the Love Around dips into a variety of musical and lyrical styles, at its heart, it’s predominately a blues album, “There’s a bit of a blues angle to everything,” she adds. The single of the same name features a selection of Vinnick’s guitar heroes while showcasing her multi-instrumental prowess. The tour-de-force blues singer enjoys her time in the studio and the process of collaborating with other songwriters. “Sometimes it’s a better way to get a song completed,” she explains, “It depends, honestly, on what we come to the table with.”

She’s happy, not just with the album, but how it’s been welcomed across the country. She’s looking forward, after the fall touring, to share it with her many fans in Atlantic Canada. “I haven’t been to the east coast with it yet,” she says, knowing the album will be appreciated by the region’s seasoned blues enthusiasts. It’s not just fans that find Vinnick’s music and performance so noteworthy, as her career has been highlighted by many covet-worthy awards.


These include: 2018 Canadian Folk Music Award for Producer of the Year with her co-producer, Mark Lalama, finalist status in the Solo/Duo Category at the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN; the 2012 CBC Saturday Night Blues Great Canadian Blues Award and the 2012 Sirius XM Canada Blues Artist of the Year. Suzie has won 10 Maple Blues Awards (she has been nominated for 21 so far!), won the 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Vocalist of the Year and is a 3X Juno Nominee.

Her most cherished sits in front of her, on her desk, reminding her of her prairie roots: the 2019 Saskatchewan Jazz Festival Special Recognition Award. This award takes her from winning an emerging contest at 19 and then follows her journey through the music business, including several appearances at the festival. “I was so thrilled and truly honoured with this award. It came with a two-hour show and I was able to bring on a bunch of players I’d worked with over the years,” she adds.

Thrilled and honoured also describes the invitation to open for Downchild Blues Band; she remembers, as a teen, seeing the Blues Brothers on Saturday Night Live and discovering the Toronto band she’ll be celebrating with here, on October 30.

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Rob Gilgan

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Lauded fashion designer Paco Rabanne dies at age 88

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PARIS (AP) — Paco Rabanne, the Spanish-born pace-setting designer known for perfumes sold worldwide and his metallic, space-age fashions, has died, the group that owns his fashion house announced on its website Friday. He was 88.

“The House of Paco Rabanne wishes to honor our visionary designer and founder who passed away today at the age of 88. Among the most seminal fashion figures of the 20th century, his legacy will remain,” the statement from Puig said.

Rabanne’s fashion house shows its collections in Paris, and is scheduled to unveil the brand’s latest ready-to-wear designs during fashion week from Feb. 27-March 3.

The Associated Press

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Local Entertainment

Wildlife Festival Returns to Red Deer’s Westerner Park February 3 – 5!

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See a Sloth! Pet a Kangaroo! Meet a Tegu!
Hang with an Iguana! And many more amazing animals.
The YYC Nature Centre, Cobb’s Adventure Park, & Cobb’s Exotic Animal Rescue are bringing you a not to be missed event in Red Deer Feb 3rd – Feb 5th 


Diversity of Living Things
What is the difference between frogs and toads? How do animals adapt? Learn about different species and life on earth.

Journey to the Amazon
See & interact with some of the incredible animals that call the Amazon home. The worlds largest rainforest comes to life!

This is Africa
Learn about the planet’s 2nd largest continent.



$17.00 in Advance
$21.00 at the door
Kids 3 and under Free.

Jan 20, 7-9pm – Adults Only Admission

$26.00 in Advance
$31.00 at the door


A small group guided experience with many of our animals! VIP Experiences are VERY LIMITED per day. One at the beginning of the day and one at the end of the day. Choose either the Parrot and Mammal Experience or the Reptile experience. $150/person in advance including admission, $175/person at the door.


Pet/feed a wallaby. Feed a porcupine. Hug a boa. Includes photo opportunity with your camera. $20 – $60 per person, per experience.

Educational Program


Learn about some of the largest reptiles on earth that call the Amazon home!

Educational Program


Learn about Sloths, Sugar Gliders, Kangaroos and much more!

What Is The Wildlife Festival?

The Wildlife Festival is an annual interactive experience that highlights animals and their habitats. Our mission is to inspire and educate people of all ages by connecting with animals. Our entertaining stage shows, educational displays and interactive experiences with the animals will teach, entertain and delight all who attend.

Who we are

Cobb’s Exotic Animal Rescue is a non-profit division of Cobb’s Adventure Park. Cobb’s is home to hundreds of animals including Kangaroos, Wallabies, Wallaroos, Llamas, Emus, Porcupines and more. Their mission is to give all exotic animals a safe and healthy life. Their current goal is to build an education center as a place to house and a place to educate the public on what it means to be involved with exotic animals. Far too often people buy exotic animals without thinking of the consequences long term. Many of these animals outgrow their spaces and even sometimes outlive their owners. As a result, exotic animals are frequently sold and resold many times, and sadly many become inhumanely disposed of. Cobb’s Exotic Animal Rescue aims to be a link to the solution. Cobbs is able to provide the appropriate care and nurturing of many of these species and gives them the unique attention that they require.

Click below to donate, and be a part of building an education center in Alberta for exotic animals in need.

Reptile Parties INC is the parent company of Calgary Reptile Parties and the YYC Nature & Education Centre. Calgary Reptile Parties launched in 2008, became incorporated in 2012, and opened the YYC Nature & Education Centre in 2021. Their focus is on programs that promote conservation, responsible pet ownership, and connecting people to animals. The center is home to 300 animals including snakes, lizards, spiders, exotic mammals, and birds. Reptile Parties INC was featured on Animal Planet’s SCALED – seen in 195 countries in 2018.

Our History

The Wildlife Festival arrived in western Canada in 2015, produced by Little Ray’s Nature Centre & The Canadian Raptor Conservancy in Ontario. In 2017 Jason Clevett of Reptile Parties INC joined the team and returned again in 2019.

In 2022 Reptile Parties INC and Calgary based YYC Nature Centre teamed up with Cobb’s Exotic Animal Rescue and Cobb’s Adventure Park to lead the re-opening of The Wildlife Festival in Western Canada. The Wildlife Festival appeared at multiple fairs and exhibitions in Alberta and Saskatchewan in 2022 drawing thousands of visitors from all across Western Canada.


Do we get to pet animals with a regular ticket?

Some animals are available for petting and hands on opportunities. We offer paid photo & interaction opportunities with select animals as well as VIP experiences behind the scenes.

What comes with the VIP Experience ticket?

Spend quality private time with the animals. An exclusive hands on experience with the animals, you can take photos and ask questions behind the scenes and meet the animals trainers too! VIP experiences are VERY limited, so purchase in advance is recommended.

Is this event for all ages?

Yes! Except for our ADULTS ONLY exclusive which is on Friday evening from 7-9pm.

What if I am afraid of snakes or spiders, but want to see the other animals?

Don’t worry, you can still get a chance to spend time with the other animals. We have several educational exhibits in place and the stage shows present an opportunity to learn about the animals from a comfortable distance.

Which animals will be at The Wildlife Festival? 

Kangaroo, Snake, Tortoise, Tegu, Toad, Wallaby, Sugar Glider, Sloth and more! Although we have many animals attending the show, we cannot guarantee that all of them will make an appearance due to many circumstances, sensitivities, and personalities these animals can have.

Red Tegu

Where did the animals come from? 

Many of the animals under our care are rescues from homes that could no longer care for them. Others have been obtained by ethical breeders for education.

Are these animals from the wild? 

None of the animals at The Wildlife Festival are from the wild. They are commonly available pets that have primarily been born/hatched under human care. Since they have been raised in captivity entirely, they are not candidates to be released into the wild.

Where Does The Money Go?

100% of the proceeds goes towards the care and support of these animals.


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