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Heartlanders for High River Set Tour Sells Out in 28 Hours


With filming split between Calgary and High River, CBC's Heartland found itself at the heart of the southern Alberta floods this summer. Cast and crew witnessed the devastation like so many others in the region.

Maggie's Diner, the show's most regonizable "Hudson" landmark, peeked out from depths of brown water when the first news photos of the High River disaster broke.

In Calgary, Michelle Morgan was evacuated from her home. (Her young family was lucky enough to be spared any major damage -- and luckier still to know someone who'd open his door to them at 3 a.m... co-star Graham Wardle.)

Amber Marshall hosted 8 evacuees, including young co-star, Alisha Newton. "I still have three extra people living with me," she says, and talking with CBC Live, she reflects on how everyone in the area reacted to the disaster: "It was definitely one of those things where it's like, 'OK, everybody open your doors."

"Everybody" includes Heartland itself.

On July 20, the show's Calgary studio will open to fans. There will be set tours, live entertainment, a cast Q&A. And it's all to raise funds for the High River Relief Fund.

"Very few fans have been known to see the Heartland set," Michelle Morgan tells CBC Live, so the exclusive chance to visit The Ranch House and Caleb's trailer IRL -- and to meet the stars, and the horses -- might account for the event being totally sold out.

(Just 28 hours and 10 minutes after the event was announced, all 1,000 tickets disappeared.)

Fans' generosity has plenty to do with that sell-out, too. Marshall talks about how the flood has brought out the best in people. "I think that it's really showed how strong Alberta is, and how strong the people of Alberta are. And not only that, how willing to give the whole world has been." (The actress has been raising money for the High River Relief Fund through her personal website, too, and she's asking guests to her summer wedding to donate to the cause in lieu of gifts.)

And if you want to donate to Heartlanders for High River, there are ways beyond buying a ticket. A live auction will take place during the July 20 event, with proceeds going to High River relief efforts. Expect to find some unique personal items up for sale. (Morgan hints that you can bid on Lou's cowboy hat, and some of her personal scripts from past episodes.)

Information on how to participate in the auction will become available in the coming days. Look for it on the Heartland blog, along with the full rundown of what's going on July 20.

"High River was Hudson," Morgan says, reflecting on how the community has given so much to the show over its 6 seasons, while subbing as its fictional Albertan home town. That's why the fundraiser will benefit the community in particular. "We're hoping to rebuild and shoot there again," she says. Scenes involving important locations, such as Maggie's Diner, have had to be rewritten on the fly because of the destruction, she explains -- though the original trajectory of the upcoming season will remain unaffected.

Would the flood ever prevent Amy and Ty from getting together, for instance?

"No," Marshall laughs. "The storylines have not changed in any way."

Morgan adds: "We're going to dedicate this season of Heartland to the town of High River."

But in the meantime, they're doing what they can to help rebuild it. The July 20 fundraiser is just one part of that.

"Basically we just want everyone to come out and support, and it's not about just getting in to see the cast and seeing the set," Marshall says. "I want people to know this really is a fundraiser to help and support High River in every way that we can. So if they can open up their hearts, and if they can open up their pockets, we'll all be better off in the end."

For more infomation about the event, visit the Heartland blog.

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