Festival building on 2011’s success


“This is our second annual Bluegrass Festival,” said Geraldine Fitzsimmons, “and we’re very excited about building on the success of last year.”

This year’s Bluegrass Festival will be held on the weekend of June 15th, 16th, and 17th at the Iroquois Locks. 

“It’s so thoughtful that the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation allows us to go on their property,” said Fitzsimmons.

This year’s line-up includes: Dave Nichols & Spare Change; Grassland; Northwind; Hard Ryde; The Dusty Drifters; Grassy Fiddle Time; Concession 23; and Darwin & Gilles.

Asked how the idea for the Bluegrass Festival originated, Fitzsimmons said, “I’ve always wanted to do a festival and I thought it would be a good fundraiser for the Galop-Canal project.”

“So, I went to see Mike Anderson to see if he would help me with it.” Given the option between Country and Western versus Bluegrass, Fitzsimmons went with Bluegrass.

“He assured me that this festival will grow, but only if we can bring in bigger name bands.” As an example, she suggested Ricky Skaggs might be a future option.

Mike Anderson is the owner of the Bluegrass Connection in South Dundas.

The weekend event will be emceed by master of ceremonies, Terry Joe Banjo who, as Fitzsimmons pointed out, is “a young man with a lot of energy. He’s funny. He goes along to a lot of the festivals.”

The sound system will be professionally manned by Shawn Markell of MK Music Solutions.

In addition to Bluegrass music, the event also offers instructional workshops on Saturday in the art of playing the guitar, the madolin, the banjo, or the dobro. 

An assortment of vendors, organized by Sharon Piche, will be showcasing their wares while the Iroquois and Matilda Lions Club will provide sustenance in the form of a barbecue.

While camping out for the weekend isn’t necessary, it is an option and Fitzsimmons pointed out that the campers are “bluegrass followers from all over” and “all of them last year had never been to our area before and just loved it.” Barb and Jerry Gurnhill are in charge of the campground detail.

As the committee learns and grows year to year, Fitzsimmons said, “we’re still going through growing pains, but we have an outstanding committee.”

“We’re hoping the weather will be like last year,” she continued. “It’s just bringing lots of people into our community.” 

The Galop-Canal Revitalization project focuses on restoring the history of the area, keeping the shorelines clean, utilizing the beautiful waterfront, and welcoming tourists into the area. 

Located in Iroquois and complete with a marina, the Galop-Canal is a great place for locals and tourists, with or without boats, to enjoy the waterfront along the St. Lawrence River. 

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