Iroquois Bluegrass festival a musical success

 

 “Bluegrass is the best music in the world, with its songs, stories and links to the past,” said Chris Coole, a member of the Foggy Hogtown Boys, who were the headliners at the 2013 Galop-Canal Bluegrass Festival, held at the Iroquois Point June 14-16. “Bluegrass might have begun in Appalachia, but its appeal is now world wide. This kind of folk music is ageless, and the crowd here is really enjoying it.”

With attendance at the 3rd annual Bluegrass Festival up 35 per cent over last year, Geraldine Fitzsimmons, on the organizing committee for the event,  admitted that she was tired but “very happy.”

Last year, 98 campers stayed at the point. This year, the campground was nearly full with over 140 campers taking advantage of the stunning setting and the 10 terrific bands which performed over the weekend. And a little rain on Sunday did not seem to dampen anyone’s spirits.

“Overall, this was a very successful festival,” Fitzsimmons said. “The quality of the bands we had on the program was outstanding. I was especially impressed with our headliners, The Foggy Hogtown Boys. And I feel that having all these people staying locally was a perfect way to showcase South Dundas. Our Festival was really good for the local economy.”  

“This year we had an all-Canadian line up of talent,” said Mike Anderson, a committee member, a musician and emcee for the Festival. “We increased out band budget some and brought in performers from farther away. We also ran really well attended free workshops in the guitar, mandolin and banjo. There was even an impromptu fiddle workshop led by Wade Foster, here with the Dusty Drifters. 

Performers like Darwin Thom and Gilles Leclerc and Foster are real ambassadors for bluegrass,.They share their talents freely on stage and in the workshops.”

Fitzsimmons had a lot of praise for the months of hard work put in by the Festival committee members, all volunteers. She particularly noted the Basket Case in Morrisburg. “Hanna (Rycroft) and Carl (McIntyre) on their own raised over $5,000 in support of the festival.” Many other individuals and businesses offered up their time, their energy and their financial support.

Upper Canada Playhouse artistic director Donnie Bowes stepped in as Friday night’s emcee when mayor Byvelds, SD councillors and committee members officially cut the opening ribbon.

This year, the Bluegrass Festival also partnered with the volunteers of Love South Dundas. 

“Our Father’s Day free breakfast was organized by Love South Dundas, and it was delicious. Rev. Geoff Howard and his family were wonderful, and contributed so much to the weekend.”

While rain on Sunday kept many classic vehicles at home, a few members of the Golden Gears Car club did make it to the Point as part of the celebration. 

“And I can’t tell you how many members of the different bands came up to tell me that the food cooked and served up by the Iroquois-Matilda Lions was just great,” Fitzsimmons said.

Matt Elwood, performing with the Unseen Strangers, and presenter of the banjo workshop, summed up the entire weekend.

“This was my first visit to the Iroquois Bluegrass Festival, and I’m loving it here.”

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