Fid­dle Fes­ti­val was re­ally place to be

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MAC­DON­ALD

Planted firmly in the front row Satur­day, well be­fore the first fid­dle was to hit the stage, Vic­tor Faubert couldn’t think of a place he’d rather be.

The New Jersey res­i­dent, who was also cel­e­brat­ing his 73rd birth­day, has been a loyal at­ten­dant of the Rollo Bay Fid­dle Fes­ti­val for the past decade.

“I love the fid­dle mu­sic. It’s a won­der­ful mix of a strong Cape Bre­ton con­tin­gent and the Chais­sons,” said Faubert, who spends his sum­mers in Cape Bre­ton. “My god, there are enough Chais­sons to put on a con­cert by them­selves. And they’re all fab­u­lous play­ers, top notch.”

The long-run­ning fes­ti­val was started by Joe Chais­son and fam­ily mem­bers in 1976, in hopes of re­viv­ing the old-time mu­sic, which was then on a de­cline.

Since then, the fes­ti­val, which is still run by the Chais­son fam­ily, has earned a rep­u­ta­tion that is spread over Canada and U.S.

Idaho cou­ple, Shane and Janet Peter­son, at­tended for the first time this year af­ter hear­ing about it through word-of­mouth.

Peter­son, who is a vi­o­lin teacher, said she found the mu­sic ter­rific and wants to start teach­ing it to her stu­dents.

“I think a lot of them are re­ally into this type of mu­sic be­cause it’s ac­ces­si­ble and kids un­der­stand it,” she said. “It has a tune and then it re­peats and has a vari­a­tion. So I think peo­ple re­ally like that.”

Ross McNaugh­tan and Jane Con­ley, both of Fall­brook Ont., were also first-timers at this year’s fes­ti­val.

The two trav­elled to P.E.I. with about 40 other mem­bers of the Blue Skies Com­mu­nity Fid­dle Or­ches­tra.

Some mem­bers also re­ceived a spe­cial per­for­mance, which showed the laid-back na­ture and warm hos­pi­tal­ity at the fes­ti­val.

“We had a lit­tle jam ses­sion in the bay,” said McNaugh­tan with a laugh.

J.J. Chais­son had in­vited mem­bers for a boat ride, where he played a few fid­dle ren­di­tions while an­chored.

“As part of the pack­age he made us all spoons and taught us to play,” said Con­ley. “So as he was fid­dling, we played the spoons and his wife was step danc­ing in the boat. It was so fun.”

Faubert, who grew up in the Thou­sand Is­lands area of New York, got into Cape Bre­ton her­itage and fid­dling mu­sic “purely by ac­ci­dent.”

It can be traced back to a 2001 visit to Judique, N.S.

“There was a sign out­side the com­mu­nity hall that said ‘ceilidh tonight, public welcome’ and I had no clue as to what that was,” said Faubert, who checked into his ho­tel be­fore re­turn­ing to the hall. “I drove back to see what it was all about... and I just to­tally fell in love with the mu­sic. So I asked where I could hear more of it. “I just got to­tally hooked.” He was later told about the Rollo Bay fes­ti­val in 2004 and has at­tended ev­ery one since.

But the fu­ture of the fes­ti­val is un­clear be­cause the grounds, which in­cludes 60 acres, the stage and all out­build­ings, are up for sale.

Faubert said he just found out the venue was for sale when he ar­rived Fri­day.

“It just broke my heart,” he said. “I hope the younger gen­er­a­tions can step up and do some­thing to keep it go­ing be­cause it’s a won­der­ful tra­di­tion. I’ve missed a lot of it, but the parts I’ve been priv­i­leged to hear have just been su­perb. It’s the best fid­dle fes­ti­val I know of any­where.”

Planted firmly in the front row Satur­day, well be­fore the first fid­dle was to hit the stage, Vic­tor Faubert couldn’t think of a place he’d rather be.

The New Jersey res­i­dent, who was also cel­e­brat­ing his 73rd birth­day, has been a loyal at­ten­dant of the Rollo Bay Fid­dle Fes­ti­val for the past decade.

“I love the fid­dle mu­sic. It’s a won­der­ful mix of a strong Cape Bre­ton con­tin­gent and the Chais­sons,” said Faubert, who spends his sum­mers in Cape Bre­ton. “My god, there are enough Chais­sons to put on a con­cert by them­selves. And they’re all fab­u­lous play­ers, top notch.”

The long-run­ning fes­ti­val was started by Joe Chais­son and fam­ily mem­bers in 1976, in hopes of re­viv­ing the old-time mu­sic, which was then on a de­cline.

Since then, the fes­ti­val, which is still run by the Chais­son fam­ily, has earned a rep­u­ta­tion that is spread over Canada and the U.S. Idaho cou­ple, Shane and Janet Peter­son, at­tended for the first time this year af­ter hear­ing about it through word-of­mouth.

Peter­son, who is a vi­o­lin teacher, said she found the mu­sic ter­rific and wants to start teach­ing it to her stu­dents.

“I think a lot of them are re­ally into this type of mu­sic be­cause it’s ac­ces­si­ble and kids un­der­stand it,” she said. “It has a tune and then it re­peats and has a vari­a­tion. So I think peo­ple re­ally like that.”

Ross McNaugh­tan and Jane Con­ley, both of Fall­brook Ont., were also first-timers at this year’s fes­ti­val.

The two trav­elled to P.E.I. with about 40 other mem­bers of the Blue Skies Com­mu­nity Fid­dle Or­ches­tra. Some mem­bers also re­ceived a spe­cial per­for­mance, which showed the laid-back na­ture and warm hos­pi­tal­ity at the fes­ti­val.

“We had a lit­tle jam ses­sion in the bay,” said McNaugh­tan with a laugh.

J.J. Chais­son had in­vited mem­bers for a boat ride, where he played a few fid­dle ren­di­tions while an­chored.

“As part of the pack­age he made us all spoons and taught us to play,” said Con­ley. “So as he was fid­dling, we played the spoons and his wife was step danc­ing in the boat. It was so fun.”

Faubert, who grew up in the Thou­sand Is­lands area of New York, got into Cape Bre­ton her­itage and fid­dling mu­sic “purely by ac­ci­dent.”

It can be traced back to a 2001 visit to Judique, N.S.

“There was a sign out­side the com­mu­nity hall that said ‘ceilidh tonight, public welcome’ and I had no clue as to what that was,” said Faubert, who checked into his ho­tel be­fore re­turn­ing to the hall. “I drove back to see what it was all about... and I just to­tally fell in love with the mu­sic. So I asked where I could hear more of it.’’

MITCH MAC­DON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Kevin Chais­son plays the key­board dur­ing the an­nual Rollo Bay Fid­dle Fes­ti­val Satur­day. The fes­ti­val has been an an­nual event since 1976, but now the fes­ti­val grounds are up for sale by the Chais­son fam­ily.

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