Festival entry deadline extended

Heather Latter

The deadline to enter the 73rd-annual Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts has been extended until March 1.
Originally set for Feb. 25, Festival committee chair Joleen Beninger noted there was a slight delay in posting the syllabus and resources manual on the website (www.ff-festival.com), as well as having the material delivered to local schools and libraries.
“Everything is available now but we just wanted to give people a little extra time,” Beninger noted.
She added all are welcome to participate—from kindergarten to adult—in individual, duet, small group, or large group performances.
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).
“Entries are starting to roll in from right across the district,” Beninger said.
“We’re looking forward to a great Festival this year.”
“You don’t have to have any experience and you don’t need to be taking lessons,” stressed fellow committee member Nikki Armstrong.
“If you can memorize, read, sing, or play an instrument, you can participate.”
Armstrong said the Festival offers a fun and rewarding opportunity for people to showcase, develop, and nurture their dramatic and/or musical abilities.
“We are very excited by some of the changes coming up,” noted Beninger.
One of those is the addition of a new “garage band” category for musicians doing cover material, as well as original material.
“We very happy to open up the instrumental category to include other types of bands,” she explained, adding that until now, the bands entered have been limited to school bands or orchestras.
“We invited local musicians who want to showcase their talents to please enter,” she remarked.
Another change this year will be the fact that several of the adjudicators are local or former residents of the district.
“We will be highlighting local talent even with our adjudicators,” said Beninger, noting it’s great that Festival participants have these role models.
Ryan McMahon, a comedian from Fort Frances who now lives in Winnipeg, will be adjudicating the English Drama portion of the Festival.
A graduate of the prestigious Second City Conservatory in Toronto, McMahon is known as “one of the most dynamic aboriginal/Native American comedians working in Canada and the United States today.”
And he has many achievements under his belt, including becoming the first native comedian to ever tape a one-hour stand-up comedy special for CBC TV.
“We’re very excited to have him on board with us this year,” Beninger enthused.
Another local adjudicator will be former Fort Frances High School teacher John Dutton, who will oversee the instrumental categories.
“He’s been a pillar of music in our community,” said Beninger.
Jacques Fafard, meanwhile, will be adjudicating the French Drama portion of the Festival.
Born, raised, and educated in a southern Saskatchewan French community, Fafard moved to Fort Frances in 1964, where he spent 27 years teaching, with his last five years in the French Immersion program.
The other adjudicators for this year’s Festival include Manitoba residents David Klassen (vocal) and Nancy Nowosad (piano).
Klassen holds a Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Manitoba and a Master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Minnesota.
Nowosad, meanwhile, holds an Associateship Diploma in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Regina.
Beninger also noted participants interested in the Festival arts bursaries or the Muriel Ross Scholarship (for piano in 2013) must submit an application form to the Festival Committee (P.O. Box 806, Fort Frances, Ont., P9A 3N1) by April 1.
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 Sunday, May 5 at the Townshend Theatre.
To enter the Festival, 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.
The cost to enter starts at $6 per entry.
The next meeting of the Festival committee goes tonight (Feb. 20) at 7 p.m. at La Verendrye Hospital.
“New committee members are always welcome and we’re always looking for volunteers to help during the Festival, as well,” noted Beninger.
For more information, contact Beninger at 274-5399 or visit www.ff-festival.com