Country star Jake Owen marks the return of concerts to Casino Rama

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Owen gives the casino his first live performance in over two years; “It feels like you’re alive again,” says a fan at Friday night’s concert

Live music has returned to Casino Rama for the first time in more than two years.

Thousands of eager concert-goers descended on the casino on Friday night to see country star Jake Owen, who gave the venue his first performance since Chilliwack’s cancellation in March 2020.

“You really feel the atmosphere. It’s alive. The staff are delighted,” said Glenn Trickey, the casino’s assistant operations manager Orillia Matters Friday evening. “It’s been a little over two years. The weekend we closed on March 15, 2020 was supposed to be Chilliwack and this would be our first tonight with Jake Owen.”

As the pandemic progressed, the casino remained closed between March 2020 and July 2021, with another brief closure in January 2022.

Trickey said Jake Owen’s concert marks the return of a major attraction at the casino.

“We’re a big venue and when we get 5,000 people together for a concert it really adds to the atmosphere,” he said. “We have been known for this in the industry and on the market for 25 years. People like to come here. We put on great shows, great artists and that’s one of our key components.”

After the two-year break in performances, a number of well-known artists are planned for the rest of the year.

“Jake Owen — obviously a big country star — kicks us off at our reopening and Avril Lavigne (Saturday) night,” he said. “Throughout May we have Chilliwack, Howie Mandel, and we’re closing out the month of May with Ringo Starr, through to Russell Peters in December, so we have a full lineup year-round.”

Guests who attended Jake Owen’s concert were thrilled to be able to get out and see live music.

“It’s just nice to see people,” said Josh Van Gerben. “You’re not stuck in your house staring at the same four walls all the time — you can see a concert. Good times.”

“It feels like you’re living again,” said Sharon Rowden. “(We) are just looking forward to having dinner and enjoying the show.”

Though concerts have returned, Trickey said the casino isn’t quite out of the woods just yet, but is working hard to get everything up and running as usual.

“We are still working on reopening and of course there are still challenges as we are still at the end of a pandemic and unfortunately staff are still getting sick and there are some shortages,” he said. “We are endeavoring to reopen all of our facilities in the near future.”

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