Residents in Wellington County and beyond looking for world class entertainment and a truly Canadian experience need look no further than Fergus later this spring.
The RCMP’s Musical Ride, a colourful tradition and ceremony incorporating horses and the scarlet RCMP uniform, will be making a stop at the Centre Wellington Sportsplex on June 3 during its 2008 tour of Ontario and Manitoba.
Brian Bielby, acting president of the Fergus Legion, which is hosting the show, said 6,000 tickets have been printed for the event, but they are going fast. Sales began just at the beginning of this month and already 1,500 to 1,800 are taken.
“I think that’s exceptionally good,” Bielby said.
Ticket coordinator Marlene McConnell added, “The response right now has been fabulous.”
Tickets cost $5 for seniors and students and $10 for adults, and are available at various businesses in and around the county, including: Scotiabank locations in Fergus, Guelph, Orangeville, and Mount Forest; Ron Wilkin Jewellers in Fergus; and The Ostic Group in Fergus; as well as at the Lions Home and Leisure Show in Fergus May 7 to 9.
Bielby explained the goal of the show is twofold: to raise money for the Legion, which struggles to stay alive because of an aging and diminishing membership base; and to recognize Fergus’ 175th anniversary.
Preparation for the world famous show is a huge task and is expected to cost about $20,000. But Bielby says it is all worth it.
“Irrespective of all the work involved, I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait,” he said, noting he has never before had a chance to see the Musical Ride. And he is not alone – despite its popularity, there are countless Canadians who have yet to witness the show.
It operates on a four-year rotation, touring throughout Canada as well as at international venues, performing at approximately 40 to 50 locations a year between the months of May and October. Thirty-six riders, 36 horses, a farrier, a technical production manager, and three NCOs travel with the Musical Ride.
The Fergus show will occur outside at the Sportsplex, and the horses will be housed inside on the arena floor, which has to be lined with soil and hay. The Legion also has to rent bleachers because, as Bielby noted, to truly appreciate the spectacle audience members should be seated in a slightly elevated position.
About 15 volunteers are working on the event committee, though about 100 volunteers will take part on the day of the event.
Bielby also said the Legion has received unbelievable support from area businesses in the form of about $1,000 in monetary donations, as well as several in-kind donations, including lumber for the stable construction from Dixon Home Building Centre.
There will be two presentations of the RCMP’s Musical Ride on June 3 – at 2pm and 7pm. Both shows will also include a special “pre-game” presentation, featuring Frisbee dogs from Fergus (day show) and the Fergus Pipe Band and the Fergus Brass Band (night show).
Bielby noted that three Fergus schools have expressed an interest in purchasing 1,000 tickets for students to attend the day time presentation.
Anyone else wanting tickets should visit one of the local businesses previously mentioned or contact Marlene McConnell at 519-843-3112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Musical Ride was developed in 1876 by early members of the North-West Mounted Police to display their riding ability and entertain the local community. It has evolved over the decades into a uniquely Canadian performance enjoyed by tens of thousands of spectators every year.
Members of the Musical Ride are first and foremost police officers who, after at least two years of active police work, volunteer for duty with the Musical Ride.
Most members are non-riders prior to their equestrian training with the RCMP; however, once they complete the courses of instruction, they not only become riders but ambassadors of goodwill.
Working through a unique medium, they promote the RCMP’s image throughout Canada and the world. RCMP members only remain with the Musical Ride for three years which ensures an annual rotation of approximately one third (33%) of the riders.
Today, in keeping with tradition, the Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of 32 riders and horses, plus the member in charge. The Musical Ride consists of the execution of a variety of intricate figures and cavalry drill choreographed to music.
Demanding utmost control, timing and coordination, these movements are formed by individual horses and riders, in twos, fours, and eights at the trot and at the canter.
Months of training, practice and many kilometres/miles around the riding school make horse and rider one. The horses must not only appear in the Musical Ride, but on Parliament Hill, in parades, special events and have the ability to travel and adapt to different environments, not to mention, hours of petting and photo-taking that the horses must patiently endure.
One of the more familiar Musical Ride formations is the “Dome,” once featured on the back of the Canadian fifty-dollar bill. The highlight of the Musical Ride is, without a doubt, the Charge, when lances, with their red and white pennons, are lowered and the riders and their mounts launch into the gallop.
The conclusion of the performance is the March Past performed to the strains of the RCMP’s Regimental March where the Musical Ride traditionally salutes the guest of honour.
For more information visit www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca and click on Musical Ride tour schedule.