2019 Bluegrass Festival continues to keep crowds and music coming

Carson Peters, centre, of Carson Peters & Iron Mountain stands with band members at the Iroquois Locks just before their first set at the Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival. The headliner band came up from Tennessee. (The Leader/Gibb photos)

IROQUOIS– The ninth annual Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival may be over, but the memories of great times and great bands are going to linger on.

Iroquois Point saw nearly 1,000 people come out for the 2019 music and the fun: despite the often rainy weather, spirits were high and the music was ‘hot’. Eleven bands, representing some of the finest bluegrass music in Canada and the United States, were in town to perform and audiences over the two day festival loved them.

Among the headliners this year were Nova Scotia’s The Bluegrass Unit and Tennessee’s Carson Peters & Iron Mountain.

Bluegrass Festival organizer Barb Rabideau takes a quick break in her busy, very successful weekend to pose with members of Barn Katz, one of the bands performing at the Festival. Left is Suzie Sweetman, right is Karen Dupuis.

“We had a great crowd despite the weather,” said Festival organizer Barb Rabideau, who, with her team of dedicated and hard-working volunteers, made the whole weekend possible. “And people were really enjoying the music. There was quite a range of different styles, too, for people to enjoy from Barn Katz to Grassy Fiddle Tyme. Our sound man, John Cameron of Montreal, was incredible and our bands loved him.”

The Iroquois Festival makes a point of providing a venue for established, as well as up and coming, Canadian bluegrass bands. “We love them,” Rabideau said, “but we also try to bring in big name US bands too. This is a lively festival in a great setting. Our music is the equal of any festival in North America.”

Dreamcatchers (on only its second visit to Canada) and Grassy Fiddle Tyme also gave short, free concerts at the Hartford Retirement Residence on Friday and Saturday.

Close to 200 rough-camped at the Point over the weekend, while others took advantage of day passes. Jamming sessions often went into the wee hours and there were free workshops in fiddling, staged by some of the best fiddlers in North America, including Ray Legere out of New Brunswick.

Musicians from Seaway District High School and a concert group from the school, Almost Synchronized, took part in the opening night events.

“We brought together some incredible musicians for the Festival,” said Rabideau. “And with the right people helping us as volunteers, well, we really had it made. The Iroquois Festival is now on the radar of both fans and musicians. The word is out on both sides of the border. Performers are eager to come here.”

That sounds promising for the 10th Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival coming in the spring of 2020. There are already major plans afoot to celebrate that milestone anniversary, although Barb Rabideau isn’t handing out details just yet.

“Let’s just say it’s going to be big, and it’s going to be fun.”

The weather may have been cool, but the music at the 9th annual Bluegrass celebration was “hot” as the crowd cheered on performers like Hacks & Buggies, above on stage.

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