Once again the Cariboo Chilcotin Métis Association proved it knows how to put on a festival.
For two days the association and a plethora of volunteers hosted several musical acts, great home-cooked food, games and lots of opportunities to win prizes.
It was the 9th annual alcohol-free and family friendly event held at the McLeese Lake Community Hall off Highway 97 at the south end of the lake.
“Our event was very successful overall,” said Dawna-lee Short, one of the jamboree organizers. “We are estimating about 300 people came through the door.”
There were visitors from as far as Alberta and Saskatchewan, she added.
“We look forward to next year when we host it Aug. 9 and 10, 2023.”
The McLeese Lake Hall offers a view of the lake and close access to it, lots of room for camping. The hall itself has a stage and dance floor on the main floor and a kitchen and eating area in the bottom floor.
Sharing their musical talents were Country Bumpkins, Lucier Brothers, although Wayne lost his voice a few days before the festival and said he sang about four songs in a low key, Brian Sawyer, Whiskey Moon, Cariboo Thunder, JJ Lavallee, Alex Kusturok, Al Giddens and Ray Chadwick, Broken Hill and Bonnie Kilroe with her one-woman Divas Show.
The Tribune arrived just before 5 p.m. Saturday evening, missing the truck-pull by about five minutes.
There were children dancing to the fiddle playing of Kusturok who was being accompanied by fellow Lavallee on guitar.
Next up Cariboo Thunder from Quesnel took to the stage, with fiddle player and singer Amy Robertson sporting her first place ribbon from the truck pull.
Robertson had fun making different sounds with her fiddle and her mouth and did not seem to miss a beat.
Many couples moved to the dance floor, enjoying the opportunity to move to live music.
Downstairs the kitchen crew was busy under the leadership of a couple from Prince George who have been volunteering for the festival for a decade.
Amy and Ton Van Der Ploeg met Wayne Lucier at a blue grass festival and he asked if they would help out with the Métis Jamboree.
“We’ve been coming ever since,” Amy said. “We go to volunteer at many festivals between April and October and it is so great to see people again when you meet up.”
Amy had made macaroni and potato salad to accompany the hamburgers and there was a big selection of homemade pies made by the association’s president Marlene Swears as well and some bannock.
While the Tribune did not get to meet the bannock contest first place winner, second place winner Joann Hamilton said there were six of them participating.
Next up were Broken Hill from Big Lake who played a set of original rock and roll songs.
They were a bit loud for some of the audience members who moved outside to the deck during the set.
Undeterred, the children continued to dance to Broken Hill’s music.
Next up Bonnie Kilroe shared her Divas Show, impersonating the likes of Liza Minnelli in Cabaret, Marilyn Monroe, Patsy Cline, with that portion inspiring people to get up and dance, Cher, Madonna, Pat Benatar and more.
Kilroe engaged the audience, including Wayne Lucier who got up on the stage to be Sonny Bono while Kilroe portrayed Cher.
The audience laughed and appreciated Kilroe’s talent to impersonate so many different people.
Closing out the evening, Lavallee picked up his electric guitar to start off the set and was joined on stage with some of the other musicians that had played earlier in the day.
“I started playing in bars before I was old enough to be in them,” he said as he introduced the first song.
Short said they wanted to give a big thank you to the community of McLeese Lake for allowing them to use the space and being so supportive.