Tom Van Dusen
Villager Contributor
RUSSELL – Russell and area country music fans are in for a double treat this weekend with a George Strait tribute band at the Russell Fairgrounds Sun., July 29, icing on the cake of the three-day Greely Legion Country Music Festival.

The Strait tribute will be delivered by Nelson Colt & The Smokin’ Guns during what’s being billed as “A Country Afternoon in the Park” presented by the Russell Lions Club. There’s a barbecue, beer garden, face painting and other activities for kids, and opening act Phil Labelle & the Country Reflections.

Adult tickets are $20; children 6 to 12 are $5 and younger than that are free. Tickets are available at Russell Pronto and Foodland. Gates open at 2 p.m. and show time is 3:30 p.m., rain or shine.

Raised in Aylmer, Colt began performing at 16; he entered and won a series of talent shows, including the 1995 CKBY Talent Search, and he was on his way.

Fans say vocally and appearance-wise he fully reflects a young George Strait. But Colt also has his own original music, some of it performed in French, and some penned with Barry Brown of the Ottawa Valley’s illustrious Family Brown and recorded in Nashville.

The morning of the day Colt takes to the stage in Russell, the 11th annual music festival will be wrapping up at Greely Legion on Mitch Owens Road, with breakfast starting at 8:30 a.m. For $7, breakfast is also available Friday and Saturday; for $12, supper is served Friday and Saturday at 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. General admission tickets are $10 on Thursday evening, ranging to $25 for full days Friday and Saturday. A weekend pass is $55 and campers are $60. Ticket information is available at

Hosted by Charlie Kitts with Unwound serving as house band, the Greely Legion festival specializes in regional talent such as Jamie and Brendan McMunn, the Swinging Doors, the Flipson Family, Huntley Slim, Gord Barnes, and Dennis Whitteker. With sign-up required, there’s an open stage Thursday starting at 8:15 p.m.

If you miss the big show, the Greely Legion presents live music and dancing on the first and third Tuesday of every month, 1-4 p.m. With one and all invited to bring their instruments and signing voices, you can bet your britches it’s mostly country.