The Cariboo Festival 2022 is back live and in-person with the performing arts in Williams Lake.
“We’re full-bore as a festival,” said Robin Ford, the group’s president. “We’re so happy we can do an in-person festival.”
There was no festival in 2020 and a virtual one in 2021.
While volunteer support over the years has dwindled in numbers, this year was a critical enough shortage some of the parts of the festival were dropped, including speech arts and the band and instrumental portions.
Robin noted this was especially sad in the Cariboo because of the large fiddling community which is now unable to participate.
This year, there were 39 vocal entries and 34 piano entries, which are low numbers from previous years. In 2019 there were over 200 entries in each of these categories.
The Fords moved to Williams Lake in 2010 and one of the reasons they stayed is because it gave their child so many opportunities.
Their 13-year-old son is a singer who loves competition and loves to perform, as well as play hockey and lacrosse.
The arts festival is one of many regional performing arts festivals across Canada which provide an opportunity for evaluation and feedback on a range of performance arts, including vocal and choral, piano, speech arts, and band and instrumental. The Cariboo festival normally includes these four categories of performance, but many festivals include others like dance.
Paid professionals adjudicate performers, and some levels are competitive, with selected performers able to go on to compete at a provincial level and above. The provincial excellence category is new this year and there are $5,000 scholarships available for winners.
Both Robin and Chris participated in festivals in their home provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Funding for the organization comes through donations, including some generous community members who help support the travel and adjudication costs of the event.
With hopes to grow the program back to what it was or even further, they ask anyone interested in becoming involved in the festival to contact Robin at email@example.com.
An honours concert of selected performers and award winners will be held on May 1 at the Calvary Church. The event is open to the public and a time for the performance will be posted on the group’s website when it is set: cariboofestival.ca.
Abigayle Kotyk was one of the performers in the festival when the Tribune visited, and sang “All is Found” while playing the ukelele. Abigayle has been playing ukelele for two years but has been singing for a long time and was happy to perform again and did two performances as part of the festival.
“It’s great, I like it,” she told the Tribune.
Both her parents are singers as well.
During her feedback voice teacher Sarona Mynhardt encouraged Abigayle to protect her voice and was enthusiastic about the young vocalist.
“In a couple more years that sound is going to get bigger,” said Mynhardt.