I’ve written a couple entries referencing the anual fiddle festival held up at Pembroke’s Riverside park every September around labour day. On a random wim, the parents and I decided to shuffle over there tonight to see what we could find for entertainment. And, as often happens, we found exactly that. And this time, I even managed to recognise a few of the songs that were being played.
Just to get a general idea of how things are set up around there, everyone who’s competing in the events of this weekend–and probably a few spectators who just want an excuse to party–piles into Riverside park, which is escentially a special event grounds that just so happens to double as a beach and very nice area to walk when it’s not jam packed with people. From about a week before labour day right up until then, when the competition shuts down, there are trailers, trucks, buses, and all manner of other things. When they’re not competing, each site tends to do their own thing so far as performances. Most of them are little more than social gatherings among friends. When the competition isn’t going, it’s almost impossible to distinguish the folks who’re just there for the party from the competitors. At that point, it generally amounts to a very glorified outdoor kitchen party. They have guitars, at least one piano, some folks doing vocals depending on the group, and of course, a crap ton of fiddles. There are stepdancers as well but I think we showed up too late to see those. They’re selling food–mostly of the burger and fries variety, and if you didn’t provide your own alcohol you probably don’t have to go far to get some. Mostly though, people show up there for the music.
We spent the better part of the evening, or at least a good 2 hours and change of it, walking from one site to the next doing just that. We’d hear a decent song or two, hang out there for a few, then when they started getting into areas we weren’t in the mood for, we’d move on to the next one. The selections were almost all folk/country or some mix of the two–it’s a fiddle festival; what the hell do you want? The usual selection at least tonight was anywhere from probably 1960 through to about 1990, though I did catch a song or two that sounded newer. At the end of it, my legs were about ready to go on strike right there, and I don’t think I was the only one in that state, so we packed it up and slid back to our respective houses.
I try to make it to that competition–or, at least, the afterparty–at least once every year. This is one of those rare things that, even if I were still living in Ottawa, I’d have to make the trip back here just to check it out. It’s probably the one thing that actually makes Pembroke feel more like home than, say, the apartment I had prior to my moving here. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean I wouldn’t move away if given the option. But I’d definitely be coming back at least once a year, right during that first week in September. Call it one of my very few unwritten rules.
If you happen to have some free time this weekend and are in or near the area, drop by Riverside park in Pembroke and check it out. I believe the players start wrapping things up on Sunday, but if I’m not mistaken some may stick around until Monday instead. If you’re interested in checking it out, have a map, of sorts. And if you do decide to go, let me know what you think. I’d be curious to see if it’s just a Pembroke area thing. If I get bored enough, I might end up back there out of random curiosity myself. Hey, that wouldn’t hurt my feelings any.