Festival a go for next April

The show must go on and so will the Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts.
Last month, organizers feared the annual festival would be cancelled due to the shrinking number of board members, but it has been saved thanks to a last-minute infusion of volunteers.
“Things are going pretty good now. We got a couple of people new on the board and we have just what we need,” John Jankiewicz, president of the Rainy River District Music Festival Association, said Tuesday.
The association met Monday night to discuss whether it could continue with plans to stage the festival in April, 2003.
In October, members had thought the festival would be cancelled, but after a phone and publicity campaign, they feel they have enough people to move forward.
“Calling around to people helped. We had a pretty good response from people,” Jankiewicz noted. “We shouldn’t have any kind of trouble this year. The festival will definitely go.”
The association now has someone devoted to fundraising. It also gained a board member with the administrative talents that had been lacking.
Raising money to host the annual event was becoming a challenge for organizers since donations to the festival had been dropping in the past few years while costs rose.
“The festival cost $15,000 [to stage] last year and it will be roughly the same thing this year,” Jankiewicz noted. “[But] I’m feeling more confident now that we have a fundraising person.”
Plans already are in the works for a gala event to be held in February to benefit the festival.
“It will be a celebration of 100 years of performing arts in the district,” organizer Carol Lyons explained.
Being held in conjunction with other events marking the town’s centennial year, the concert tentatively is scheduled for Feb. 14-15 and will feature performers of all types from throughout the district.
Funds raised at the event—to be held at the Townshend Theatre starting at 7:30 p.m. each night—will go to the festival.
Organizers will be digging through old photo albums and asking for help from the public to locate stories and images of musicians from the past.
Lyons said they want to feature stories such as Florence Forsberg, a famous singer who moved to New York City from this district and hit it big.
Lyons said this is just one of the ways to keep the festival going.
“This is a 70-year tradition and we don’t want to let that go. We don’t want to lose that opportunity for our kids,” she stressed.
The association’s next meeting is slated Monday, Dec. 2 at 7:15 p.m. at the Fort Frances Public Library.