John Arcand Fiddle Festival celebrating 20th anniversary
The John Arcand Fiddle Festival, showcasing Métis customs and traditions, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend in Saskatoon.
Arcand learned to play the fiddle as a young boy – and is still tapping his foot along to the beat seven decades later.
“I was fortunate enough to have learned enough to teach other people,” he said. “So that just grew and mushroomed into what it is today.”
The festival started with only a couple hundred people. Now, more than 2,000 people and nearly 50 fiddlers come from Canada and the United States to take part in the four-day event.
“It’s a big one that’s recognized across the country,” said judge Rodney Krip. “Players come from the east coast to the west coast to the north.”
Krip has been playing the fiddle his whole life and even competed against Arcand. He says Arcand continues to inspire him to this day.
“The ideas behind (the music) that he puts in, the arrangements, the feel, the drive, the lift, that’s what we recognize in Johnny’s music and his playing and what he contributes to our culture,” Krip said.
Arcand has written more than 250 original songs. The Métis community is making sure the fiddling tradition continues.
“My biggest thrill is seeing a bunch of kids playing the fiddle growing up. I was the only one for a long time,” Arcand said. “Now we’ve got all kinds of teachers, all kinds of books. Years ago there was not even one teacher.”
This year’s event also boasts a cultural component, with instructors offering tips and tricks on traditional crafts, like sash weaving.
The festival runs until Sunday.
Based on a report by CTV Saskatoon's Mark Villani