The 19th annual Big Valley Jamboree ended Sunday, without the festival's headliner and final act taking the stage.

Country superstar Toby Keith was supposed to begin his set at 9 Sunday night, but he had to pull out because of throat problems.

"He was apparently backstage just trying to make it better," Chris Scheetz from CISN Country 103.9 said over the phone from Camrose. "He wanted to get out there so badly."

The last-minute cancellation cast a pall over the fans hoping to see Keith perform for the first time in nine years.

"Someone just described it to me as when the Oilers lose a game," Scheetz said. "Everyone's just kind of down and not feeling the best."

Although the final night was a disappointment for many fans, most of the rest of the weekend was a success.

Two acts were forced to cut their performances short on Friday because of the weather, but fans attending Saturday and Sunday were treated to sunny skies and clear weather.

The festival's long-time emcee said the event is a summer tradition for thousands of fans.

"It just feels like a homecoming for so many people," Danny Hooper said on Sunday. "A lot of folks, especially rural folks plan their summer vacations and make their summer holidays right here at Big Valley."

Fan dedication could come through in attendance numbers as well; this year's edition could break attendance record for the festival.

What is now Canada's largest outdoor country music festival has come a long way over nineteen years.

"I remember back in the early days, every year there was talk that it was [going to] fold, that they were [going to] go bankrupt," Hooper said. "In fact, in the early days there weren't crowds anywhere near what we're getting now."

With files from Adam Kuzina