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Fred Penner brings music and entertainment for the whole family

Children’s entertainer and musician Fred Penner, along with sideman Paul O’Neill, brought joy and fun to Fort St. John when they performed at the North Peace Cultural Centre Saturday afternoon.
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In the minutes leading up to his Fort St. John show Saturday afternoon, children's entertainer Fred Penner glances suspiciously at a toy cat on his shoulder. Penner performed at the North Peace Cultural Centre for a crowd of around 261 people.

Children’s entertainer and musician Fred Penner, along with sideman Paul O’Neill, brought joy and fun to Fort St. John when they performed at the North Peace Cultural Centre Saturday afternoon.

Penner has been performing in “every corner of this country” for 44 years, and his weekend performance at the cultural centre was his third time in Fort St. John, he told the Alaska Highway News.

There were 261 tickets sold for the show, which was designed to be a memorable experience for people of all ages.

“The idea is to bring music and entertainment to the entire family, from child to grandparent,” Penner said.

“That’s been the path over these many years, and now that the children who first grew up with me in the early days, who are collectively called ‘Fred Heads,’ are now having their own children, coming to performances or they’re going to university.”

Penner and O’Neill, who have performed together for 20 years, have even played at college and university campuses “from coast to coast,” with shows “starting at 10 at night instead of 10 in the morning.

“The spectrum of the work has covered a lot of bases, and we’re just thrilled to be up here in Fort St. John,” said Penner.

In their shows, they “play with the audience, we play together, we create some lovely music, and it’s all about bringing the audience together with us to share in the entertainment, to share in the songs.”

But it’s also “to consider things along the way, because there’s questions that will be asked of the audience, rhetorical things, but it’s meant to be an experience,” he added.

His hope is that at the end of his performances, “it’s not just, ‘Oh, that was fun,’ but ‘Oh, that was deeper than just a fun thing.’

“It’s something that you will remember for years to come, hopefully,” he said.

As for whether or not Penner will be back in Fort St. John in the future, he says anything is possible, and that he’s just a phone call away.

peacereporter@ahnfsj.ca