The jig is off

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Métis Spring Festival cancelled due to lack of cash

St. Albert residents will have to find a new place to fiddle and jig this spring – the Métis Spring Festival has been cancelled due to a lack of funding.

The Gazette learned earlier this month that the Métis Child and Family Services Society of Edmonton had cancelled the 2016 Métis Spring Festival. The annual event has drawn hundreds of artists and guests to St. Albert since 2009 to see and hear some of the region’s top Métis fiddlers, singers and jiggers.

“Unfortunately, we just don’t have the funding for it,” explained organizer Florence Gaucher.

The society took over the festival from Poundmaker’s Lodge about four years ago and has been paying for it out of its contingency fund ever since, Gaucher said. Last November, they realized they didn’t have enough in the fund to cover the event’s $65,000 bill, which includes fees for performers, rentals, and prizes. The society decided to cancel what would have been the 8th annual spring festival as a result.

St. Paul Métis fiddler and spring festival regular Calvin Vollrath said he was saddened to hear the news.

“It was a great festival, and I enjoyed playing it every year.”

Fiddling and jigging were pretty much all you had for family entertainment in the old days, but kids today have so many other options, he said. These festivals help bring people together and keep Métis culture alive.

“I think it’s very important to be able to share this Métis culture with the Métis kids and everybody in general.”

Gaucher said she’s not sure if the festival will return. The society will have to see if it can work out a cost-sharing or sponsorship deal to finance the event. This year’s festival could still happen if someone stepped up to host or fund it, she noted.

The spring festival was originally scheduled for the May long weekend.

Questions on the festival should go to Gaucher at 780-638-6544.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.