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Jug bands a highlight of Olds Kiwanis Music Festival that starts Monday

Olds & District Kiwanis Music Festival runs from March 18-26 in the TransCanada Theatre or adjoining band room
MVT Olds Kiwanis Music Festival - warner bernhardt-1
Warner Bernhardt plays Concerto No. 3 in E Flat Major by W.A. Mozart during the Olds & District Kiwanis Music Festival's grand concert at the TransCanada Theatre on April 3, 2019. File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS — This year’s Olds & District Kiwanis Music Festival will feature something a little different – jug bands.

Jug bands create their music on homemade instruments or just handy nearby items like jugs washboards, spoons, water glasses, saws or harmonicas.

The festival runs from March 18-26 in the TransCanada Theatre or adjoining band room. The grand concert and awards will be held in the theatre on April 2 and the benefit concert, also on the theatre on April 4. Both those concerts will start at 7 p.m.

According to a tentative schedule on its website, in addition to the jug bands, the festival will feature entrants in piano, speech, musical theatre, choral, contemporary vocals, band, instrumentals and strings, as well as junior and senior piano.

The festival program will be posted in the festival’s website shortly before it begins.

“We have about six jug bands and they won't be adjudicated, but the audience members will vote on who will win that class and then we will ask them to perform at the grand concert,” festival coordinator Wendy Durieux said during an interview with the Albertan.

Durieux said the idea to include jug bands was spurred as organizers were sitting around trying to come up with ideas for this year’s festival.

“It was very interesting because there's so many people who don't know what a jug band is, so we had to explain,” she said.

Durieux said the festival is still trying to recover from COVID-19 pandemic restrictions when it was difficult for people to gather for events.

“We really took a hit (during) COVID,” Durieux said. “Those years were hard.

“But even after COVID we’re finding that people are not taking the lessons and like they used to. They’re not back into the whole, swing of everything or maybe (they) found it nice to not have to pay for those lessons and not have to practise.”

Durieux said some teachers haven’t come back since then either. She suspects COVID restrictions spurred some music teachers to simply retire.

Durieux said a few years ago, the festival used to attract about 2,500 participants. This year she estimates the figure is around 1,200.

However, all is not lost.

In fact, Durieux said there’s been a bit of a rebound in numbers.

“We have some musical theatre this year, which we haven’t (had) for the past little while,” she said. “We have more duets and groups and bands and choirs which brings the number of participants up.

“We're still kind of trying to get people back into the swing of being part of the festival.”

Durieux notes that the competitions held from March 18-26 are free to attend, however you will have to obtain a ticket to attend the grand concert and awards and/or the benefit concert.

Doug Collie

About the Author: Doug Collie

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