The John Arcand Fiddle Fest began in 1998 when John Arcand (known as the Master of the Métis Fiddle) had a dream to give something back. He felt the fiddle had been good to him and he wanted to see the music preserved and the traditions carried on. He wanted to provide an opportunity for the young people to learn the traditions behind the music and dance under the guidance of Elders. With these goals in mind he was inspired to initiate the very first Fiddle Fest. It has since grown into a four day celebration of culture, music and dance, featuring two full days of workshops to inspire the young and young at heart.
In 2001, the John Arcand Fiddle Fest incorporated as a non-profit organization with a volunteer board of directors. In 2003 and 2004 with the support of funding and sponsorship, the Festival was able to begin paying limited artist fees, travel and accommodation expenses and began to attract larger audiences. Through word-of-mouth and John’s excellent reputation in the music world, musicians and dancers began asking to be added to the roster for future programming.
Following up from the 9th Annual Fiddle Fest in 2006, festival organizers were stunned to realize that attendance had increased by 72%! This brought on the launch of a capital campaign to build a permanent ROOF to house the main stage venue, as well as other site amenities. In the Spring of 2010 – with a small bank loan to cap off the funding, the Roof became a reality. Fundraising continues to complete repayment of the loan, and continue on to other much needed site improvements. The organization continues to grow and move onward, with the assistance of limited paid administrative staff.
In March of 2011 charitable status was achieved, board development continues, the volunteer base continues to grow, and so does sponsorship. Together with exciting new programming initiatives, the Festival continues to prove itself as a cross-cultural meeting place, not only creating a venue for the knowledge transfer within a national Métis/Aboriginal community network, but also helping to disseminate the music, dance and culture to a larger community. The Festival honors the talent and skill of the musicians and dancers who keep the culture alive and relevant for the benefit and survival of future generations.
The hands on music and dance workshops offer space and time where real learning and exchange can occur and the contests are based on the notion of “personal best” to support our survival as a distinct culture.
All musicians and dancers have the opportunity to jam with each other and engage audiences with a live, in the moment performing arts experience. Mixing music, dance, education and entertainment helps all understand how we fit into a multicultural nation that must weave together to continue to flourish and survive.
Vision and Mission
“To promote and preserve fiddle, music and dance and to provide a forum to showcase youth, talent and culture.”
Our Vision Statement:
To present an annual festival that offers cultural awareness and diversity in programming that is inviting and affordable to all. Our core values are:
- To promote and preserve fiddle music and dance;
- To offer mentoring through workshops;
- To feature a variety artist presentations and disciplines;
- To facilitate networking among the fiddle, music and dance community;
- To provide a showcase for youth and talent;
- To promote cross-cultural exchanges
- To create awareness and promotion of the Métis Culture
“We are indeed preserving and promoting the Métis cultural traditions of fiddle music and dance. We have a winning product here that is making a huge impact on the Métis legacy, Saskatchewan people, and the arts community.”
John Arcand – Founder and Artistic Director