North Rus­tico Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val marks 25th an­niver­sary

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT/COMMUNITY -

Fans of old-time coun­try are ar­riv­ing in Rus­tico this week­end by the car­load — and the bus­load — for the an­nual North Rus­tico Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val at the North Star Arena.

Be­gin­ning to­day and con­tin­u­ing un­til Sun­day, this 25th an­niver­sary edi­tion will fea­ture the el­e­ments that have con­trib­uted to its suc­cess over the years — good food, good mu­sic and good fun. En­ter­tain­ers from the New Brunswick Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Fame will share the stage with P.E.I. per­form­ers in a week­end that in­cludes con­certs, work­shops, jam ses­sions, a hymn sing and meals on site.

The fes­ti­val has its roots a few kilo­me­tres west of North Rus­tico in what was then a pop­u­lar amuse­ment park called Rain­bow Val­ley. Orig­i­nally called Fid­dlers and Fol­low­ers, Mary Smith, an em­ployee at Rain­bow Val­ley, came up with the idea and has been a key or­ga­niz­ers since the be­gin­ning.

“To keep tra­di­tional old-time mu­sic alive is why it started out, and it still is the rea­son we con­tinue. It’s part of our her­itage. Rain­bow Val­ley was re­ally re­cep­tive to the idea, owner Earle Dav­i­son pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity for it to start and he’s still in­volved in it to­day.

“We’ve never missed a year — we’re get­ting older, but I still get re­ally pumped up about it,” says Smith with a lit­tle laugh.

“It’s quite a mile­stone. I sup­pose we didn’t look ahead to go­ing for 25 years, but it’s so re­ward­ing when you see how much good peo­ple get out of it. It would be a shame if it didn’t keep go­ing.”

Her or­ga­ni­za­tional team ef­fort with Dav­i­son has also kept go­ing. There has been other oc­ca­sional as­sis­tance; for ex­am­ple, this year they were grate­ful to have two young peo­ple for a day and a half from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of North Rus­tico to help erect the fish­eries­back­drop on the stage in the arena.

When the fes­ti­val started, the fid­dle was the main in­stru­ment. Smith, who is a fid­dler and en­ter­tainer with plenty of con­tacts in

North Star Arena, North Rus­tico. July 31 to Aug. 2.

New Brunswick Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Famers Al­li­son Inch, Bon­nie Rair­don, Ivan and Vi­vian Hicks, Roger Lan­teigne, Derek Knowles and Wayne Hache, as well as Fern and Lau­rie Bel­liveau, Marnie and Harold Noye, Louise Arse­nault, Janet McGarry, Serge Bernard, Howard Ross, Lester MacPher­son, Theo Wiegers, Trudy Cor­bett Hughes, Mary Cousins, the Arse­nault Sis­ters, Mary Smith and many more.

Call Mary at 902-963-2356 or 902836-3610 or email mary@rain­bow­val­ley.pe.ca. the en­ter­tain­ment field, has been able to grow the fes­ti­val to in­clude top coun­try vo­cal­ists and blue­grass per­form­ers. How­ever, there are still top-notch fid­dlers, in­clud­ing Ivan Hicks from New Brunswick, who will be tak­ing the stage with his wife, Vi­vian.

“It’s a nice event with some great tal­ent, a great week­end,” he said from his home out­side Monc­ton.

Now in his 69th year of play­ing the fid­dle (he started play­ing dances with his dad near Port El­gin, N.B., when he was just six years old), he says he’s plan­ning lots of fid­dle tunes and maybe even a song or two from Vi­vian.

Af­ter play­ing in North Rus­tico last year, they are happy to be com­ing back. And he urges mu­sic fans to check it out.

“Here’s the 25th an­niver­sary of a fes­ti­val, so you know that some­thing good is be­ing done. Come and see and hear what tal­ent there is. There’s a Fri­day night con­cert, a Satur­day af­ter­noon and evening con­cert, a Sun­day con­cert, work­shops, great food and great so­cial­iz­ing. And the at­mos­phere of North Rus­tico — just be­ing around that com­mu­nity makes it a spe­cial week­end in many ways.”

He also has high praise Smith’s ef­forts.

“She’s one of those am­bas­sadors that a place has and she is cer­tainly one of them for Prince Ed­ward Is­land.”

As Smith com­pletes the fi­nal touches on the week­end — from the red and white ta­ble cloths and the in­door tent in the arena to the con­cert line­ups, the food and her master of cer­e­monies notes — she’s look­ing for­ward to the mu­sic, food and fun get­ting un­der­way again.

“It’s pro­fes­sion­ally done — a qual­ity event and the en­ter­tain­ers are fan­tas­tic. Peo­ple min­gle and get to know the en­ter­tain­ers and en­joy the mu­sic.”

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SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ivan and Vi­vian Hicks from New Brunswick are look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing at the 25th North Rus­tico Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val at the North Star Arena this week­end.

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