Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival wows fans

Nothin’ Fancy, from Virginia, was a headliner at the 2017 Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival. Pictured are band members Mike Andes, Mitchell Davis, Chris Sexton, James Cox and Caleb Cox. (The Leader/Gibb photo)
Nothin’ Fancy, from Virginia, was a headliner at the 2017 Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival. Pictured are band members Mike Andes, Mitchell Davis, Chris Sexton, James Cox and Caleb Cox. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

IROQUOIS – Big crowds, fantastic music and a great good time for all characterized the 2017 Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival held at the Iroquois Point, June 15-17.

The weather may have been hot all weekend, but so was the music on stage.

“We had 210 campers up at the Point,” said chair of the festival, Barb Rabideau, “the most we’ve ever had. People told us how much they really love our venue here.

Next year, I think we can get even more trailers on site.”

Rabideau also reported that there were 220 advanced sales this year, and many sales at regular prices on the actual festival days.

“There really were a lot of new faces in the crowds, coming from as far away as Kitchener, and from the States. I think the Galop Bluegrass Festival is now a destination,” she said. “Our sales this year were up four per cent, while some other festivals saw a decline. And that huge storm on Saturday afternoon completely bypassed us!”

Rabideau also pointed out that there were several large groups of local music lovers who came out to support the festival. “I think the local folks are getting hooked,” she laughed.

Keeping the show moving was the engaging MC, Rick Leben, from Ottawa, whose musical knowledge, crowd pleasing banter and stage style were a real festival asset.

Chief among the festival draws this year were the Virginia Hall of Famers, Nothin’ Fancy, who added many new Canadian fans to their huge American fan base following their sets Friday and Saturday.

“The band really enjoyed their time here,” said Rabideau. “They jammed with the fans into the night, got a real feel for the crowds and played them the music they really loved.”

Joining Nothin’ Fancy throughout the weekend were other noted bands including The Blue River Band, South East Mountain, Douglas Connection, Plager Boys, The Dusty Drifters, R&B Country, The Pie Plates, Grassy Fiddle Tyme and Hillbilly Highway.

“Nothin’ Fancy also jammed with the other bands,” Rabideau laughed, “and the crowds loved that. They were real entertainers.”

Visitors to the festival also took advantage of several free workshops, offered by Nothin’ Fancy, learning from masters in mandolin, banjo, fiddle and guitar.

Rabideau praised the hard work and dedication of all the volunteers, including BMO employees who manned the gates on Saturday. “The volunteers were fantastic, and made the festival the success it was. The South Dundas Chamber of Commerce also thoroughly enjoyed being in partnership with the festival.”

“This was just a great bluegrass festival,” chair Barb Rabideau said. “I’m not even nervous anymore,” she laughed.

Organizers are already looking ahead to the 2018 event.

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