Stage set for Horsefly’s 2018 Arts on the Fly

Music festival boasts four stages and dozens of acts

For Horsefly local — and one half of the Juno award winning Bluegrass duo of Jason and Pharis Romero — the upcoming Arts on the Fly music festival is a celebration of family, friends, community and, of course, great music.

“It feels like a homecoming,” said Jason Romero, taking a few moments to talk to the Tribune from his banjo workshop just outside of Horsefly.

Jason’s wife Pharis, meanwhile, has been busy this week hosting a songwriting workshop for all skill levels with her sister and fellow musician, Marin Patenaude, and Sarah Jane Scouten.

Taking place on the Romero’s property just outside of Horsefly, the sold out two-day workshop, on July 11 and 12, explored melody, form, chord structure, lyricism and rhythm, alongside the development and delivery of songs.

Jason said participants camped out, shared potluck meals and their love for music.

“Everyone’s having a blast,” Jason said, noting the workshop was held this week so it could just roll into the festival.

It’s been a long road to the 2018 Arts on the Fly festival.

Read more: Horsefly Arts on the Fly is back July 13 and 14

In 2017 wildfires forced the cancellation of the festival. The year before that organizers took a one-year hiatus due to volunteer fatigue.

Jason said they are looking forward to the event, which is sure to fill the streets of the small town with visitors, vendors and performers.

“It’s great especially after having to cancel last year due to the fires,” Jason said.

“It’s just like a big family reunion for us and a great time with Cariboo friends.”

Jason’s not kidding about the family aspect. Pharis’s brother Cole is scheduled to perform as the Cole Patenaude Band, as is her sister Marin Patenaude. Ciel Patenaude is not lending her musical talents, however, she is scheduled to lead yoga Saturday at 11 a.m. featuring the music of Plasteroid.

All told, more than 40 talented performers are set to perform on one of the four Arts on the Fly stages beginning Friday evening with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. and music starting at 6:30 p.m.

There are also some fun workshops and a Kidzone that will run all day Saturday.

Tickets for adults are $60 for the weekend, and reduced prices are available for youth and seniors. They can be purchased on the festival site, at the Open Book or online at

Jason said he and Pharis try to keep their summer tour to every second weekend, and plan to perform this year at the Mission Folk Festival, Blueberry Bluegrass Festival in Edmonton and the Roots n’ Blues Festival in Salmon Arm.

Jason said their music is simply an extension of their life and business, which is building custom, handmade banjos. He said they currently have a five-year waitlist for their products.

The couple are also busy raising a family, and have a daughter, Indigo, 4, and a son, Sy, 2.

The couple were awarded the 2016 JUNO for Roots Traditional Album of the Year.

They are also receiving rave reviews for their new album, Sweet Old Religion, which was mostly recorded in Horsefly.

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