Festival all set to go

Heather Latter

The 74th Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts is set to begin next week, with local performers of all ages taking part in four different divisions.
“Things are moving along as expected,” said Festival committee chair Joleen Beninger.
“I’m looking forward to the next couple of busy and exciting weeks, and anticipating some fantastic performances from new and seasoned performers,” she noted.
“I’m especially excited to see some of the entries from those who have entered the Festival for the first time,” Beninger enthused.
The Festival will begin with the vocal division running April 1-3, followed by French Drama (April 2), Instrumental (April 3-4), Piano (April 7-11), and English Drama (April 14-16).
Beninger noted the division programs are available online at www.ff-festival.com
Participants are encouraged to check out the program and note the date, time, and venue for each of their performances.
“We are dealing with any blips in the schedule that have come up,” Beninger said.
She noted there have been a few slight changes to the schedules since they were first posted, particularly in the piano division, so people should check back to note those updates.
“In addition, we would like parents and performers to check online so they are 100 percent certain of the venue they are performing at,” she stressed.
“Programs will not be sold in advance,” Beninger added.
“They will only be available at the door of each session.”
But she added people are invited to print out their own copies of the pages they require to bring along with them.
Beninger also said the Festival has seen an increase in the number of participants this year.
“Our overall numbers are up slightly from last year, which is really good news because it’s the first time in a couple of years that they’ve been up,” she remarked.
“We’ve seen a definite increase in the instrumental and piano divisions this year.”
The piano division has remained popular, with a full week of performances scheduled.
But participants in the drama division are dwindling.
“I would love to see more involvement in the dramatic arts section of our Festival,” Beninger remarked.
“There are members of the committee and members of the community who love working with kids and love the arts, and would be willing to help out students or adult performers who want to try it out,” she noted.
“If they contact the committee, we can put them in contact with someone who can help them.”
Beninger also noted that despite the French immersion program being phased out here, she is happy with the numbers in the French drama division.
“We are still seeing a reasonable number of French entries,” she said.
“I think it’s great that some of the core French teachers are working hard to continue teaching the students the language and to perform it.”
Beninger noted Festival performances are open to all members of the community to attend and support the performers.
A $2 admission fee is charged for each session.
The annual “Highlights” concert, which showcases the best performances from the three-week Festival, will follow on Sunday, May 4 at the Townshend Theatre.
“And as always, we are in need of volunteers to help run the Festival,” Beninger stressed.
“So anyone from the community who has an interest in volunteering to help at any of the venues, or wants to be involved in the committee, can contact myself [274-5399] or any of the other committee members.
“We would love to have them,” she added.
Beninger also thanks all of the donors, as well as those who have provided a helping hand in the Festival preparations.