Festival entries set to open
As the 73rd-annual Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts gears up, with entries being accepted starting next week, people are reminded that all are welcome to participate.
“It’s a fun and rewarding opportunity for people to showcase, develop, and nurture their dramatic and/or musical abilities,” noted Nikki Armstrong of the Festival committee.
“You don’t have to have any experience and you don’t need to be taking lessons,” she stressed.
“If you can memorize, read, sing, or play an instrument, you can participate.”
Entry forms, as well as the syllabus and resource manual for 2013, will be available on the Festival website (www.ff-festival.com) next Monday (Jan. 28).
Material will also be available at local schools and the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre.
The divisions include Piano, which this year will run April 8-12, English Drama (April 15-19), French Drama (April 18-19), Instrumental (April 17-18), and Vocal (April 22-25).
“There is a category for everyone,” reasoned Callahan Wiedenhoeft, who has participated in the Festival for the past five years.
Participants can recite poems, both humorous or serious, selecting one of the provided pieces or choosing one of their own.
They can say a poem with a friend in the “duet poetry” category, or do a serious or humorous reading.
The Drama division also includes storytelling, skits, and monologues, as well as prepared or impromptu speeches.
In the Vocal division, participants can choose to sing secular, sacred, traditional, or contemporary songs while in the Piano division, there is the option to play anything from popular music to jazz, classical, or sacred.
The Instrumental division, meanwhile, allows for participants to showcase their talents on many different instruments—from guitar or recorder to saxophone or drums.
And if there is something someone wants to do and there doesn’t seem to be a category for it, the committee is willing to accommodate.
“We don’t want to turn people away who want to perform,” stressed Joleen Beninger, who is chairing the Festival committee.
Armstrong said there are many benefits to participating in the Festival.
“It’s fun, increases self-confidence, and develops stage presence and other performance skills, which will have a positive influence in school and life,” she remarked.
“I’ve pretty much always been in Festival, so I think it has definitely helped with things like stage fright,” noted Taylor Shouldice, who was the 2012 winner of the Elfé Forsberg Award for most promising vocalist (15 or 16 years old).
“You’re not scared when you are little, so you just go up there and you are used to it for pretty much the rest of your life,” she reasoned.
“I used to be really shy and I’m not anymore—all because I went in the Festival,” echoed Wiedenhoeft, noting she decided to enter when she was six years old because she had written a poem about her brother she wanted to share.
“Now I can get up in front of my classmates to do school presentations without any problem at all,” she added.
Seeing his sister learn and grow from her participation in the Festival, Christian Wiedenhoeft competed for the first time last year.
“I really liked performing in front of an audience and making people laugh,” he said. “And it was helpful to hear someone say good things about your performance.
“It makes you feel like you did a good job.”
Participants, whether they are entered as non-competitive or competitive, receive feedback from a qualified adjudicator following their performances.
“People might think they are being judged but it’s not like that,” Callahan Wiedenhoeft said. “They are just nice people who are giving you advice to improve on your strengths.”
“All comments are focused in a positive manner,” Armstrong stressed. “There are no losers.
“Everyone leaves feeling proud of themselves.”
All performers receive a certificate, and are in the running to take home a wide variety of awards available at all age levels and in all divisions.
Those award winners are invited to perform in the annual “Highlights” concert, which this year is set to take place May 5 at the Townshend Theatre.
Those who participate in the Festival learn about setting goals and how to work towards them.
“I found it fun to work toward something,” enthused Trevor Barker, who captured the coveted Rose Bowl award in both the Piano and Vocal divisions back in 2008.
“I knew that I was going to perform in front of people, and I knew I wanted to make a good impression, so I had to set goals for myself,” he noted.
“It drives me to try and do better every year,” said Shouldice.
Although performing in the Festival might take some people out of their comfort zones, Barker said it’s well worth it in the end.
“It’s a great growing and learning experience,” he reiterated. “I believe it’s made me a better performer overall because I got to hear another person’s point of view.”
Armstrong hopes parents realize the benefits of the Festival and encourage their children to enter.
“I have seen the tremendous growth and self-confidence in my children,” she remarked. “And it’s so wonderful to see them sparkle and shine on the stage.
“We’re really lucky to have a Festival like this.”
To enter, check out the syllabus (a guide to all the available categories) and the resource manual, which lists all the possible selections you may choose from.
These, along with the entry forms, are available online at www.ff-festival.com and at the local libraries.
The cost to enter starts at $6 per entry, with the deadline to return entry forms being Feb. 25.
Entries can be sent to Festival Entries, P.O. Box 806, Fort Frances, Ont., P9A 3N1.
“I know it can be a bit overwhelming for parents if they have never been involved in the Festival before,” noted Armstrong.
“So if someone is needing help choosing a piece or coaching, there are always people available, such as the committee.”
“And it’s not just for children,” she added. “Adults are encourage to participate, as well.”
For more information, contact Beninger (274-5399) or Armstrong (274-0945).