It may only be January, but the organizers of the Maritime Fiddle Festival are already gearing up to host Canada’s longest running old-time fiddle festival and competition. The event is scheduled for the July 3rd weekend at the East Dartmouth Community Centre and it will include concerts, workshops, step dance and fiddle competitions and an all-ages “kitchen party”.
Planning Committee member Sarah Douglas recently took some time to talk a bit about what drew her to working on the committee and why she thinks the Maritime Fiddle Festival is great for Dartmouth.
Douglas first became involved with the festival as a judge for the step dance competition, but she wanted to become more involved. “This is such a fun, family-friendly event,” says Douglas. “It brings business to Dartmouth, it promotes our Nova Scotian Heritage plus it promotes the whole province of Nova Scotia. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”
The Festival attracts people of all ages from across Canada and the United States who come to compete for cash prizes and bragging rights. Audiences come to hear up-and-coming fiddlers as well as popular, well-established artists like last year’s featured fiddler Donnell Leahy.
The Rotary Club of Dartmouth East has been a long-time sponsor of the festival, and profits made from tickets sales go back to helping people in the community. As well, competitors take the time to visit seniors’ centres in the area, bringing music and dance to people who might not otherwise get out to see it.
The committee is hoping to grow the audience for the festival, and will soon be making a promotional video.
“We’re really working to inspire and reinvigorate the fiddle culture here,” Douglas says. “We’d love it if people would share their stories with us.”