Sarah MacDonald wraps up the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival
The 2019 Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival was certainly one for the books. This year marked the festival’s 43rd year, however this year was my first year in attendance.
One thing I noticed right away about the festival (and something I really loved) was how understated it was. It was super low-key, and while it had exciting activities for its attendees to partake in throughout the weekend, it wasn’t over the top, which was really refreshing because it was all about the music. The main goal of this festival since its inception by the famous Chaisson Family has always been the education and preservation of traditional music on Prince Edward Island, and that was the focus for everyone.
There were so many great highlights throughout this weekend. One highlight was the venue itself. Everything about it encompassed the traditional style that the Chaisson family was looking to preserve. The venue is located in rural eastern Prince Edward Island, and while the entrance is right off the highway, once you arrive, the mainstage is an area surrounded by beautiful scenery by way of the trees that encompassed the main viewing area in addition to the green rolling hills (which the children on site LOVED and played on all weekend). The secondary stage is a beautiful rustic building located adjacent to the mainstage and home to barn dances, traditional discos, and jam sessions among guests. It came in VERY hand on Sunday when the rain came!
Of course, the main highlight of the weekend was the incredible talent that graced the stages. Highlights included the incredibly talented students of the Rollo Bay Fiddle School. These children performed flawlessly and could have easily given the mainstage performers a run for their money. It truly warmed my heart to see these kids perform with such passion. It certainly cemented my hope for the future of traditional music on PEI. Some of the great mainstage highlights also included The Scandinavian String Alliance, ECMA-winning groups, Vishten, The Barra MacNeils, JJ Chaisson, Sean Cooke and of course, festival closers The East Pointers. Men, women and children of all ages came together to take in everything the festival had to offer and left feeling happy and entertained with the ending of each day.
I would have to say that the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival was one of my favorites to cover and would highly recommend it to anyone anywhere!
The 2020 Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival will take place the weekend of July 17 as it’s always the third weekend in July.