Branch #1, Prince George, is a vibrant group of fiddlers, backup musicians, and those who just love to listen, who enjoy getting together to jam, dance and have fun together! We are committed to bringing the upbeat, happy sound of old-time music to our community by providing music at various events, dances, and seniors’ residences. New members are always welcome.
JAM NIGHTS every Tuesday, 7 – 9 pm at the Elks Community Hall, 663 Douglas St. Cost is $5 for adults (kids free with adult); everyone is welcome!
DANCES – 2nd Saturdays – Feb 11 and Mar 11 at 7 pm at Elks Hall, 663 Douglas
LESSONS ARE COMING – plans are underway for group lessons in six-week packages for new and beginner fiddlers, of all ages, starting late January or February. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Beth at (250) 565-1025
SPRING JAMBOREE – in the works for April 14 – 16, 2023. More information to follow.
BRANCH #1 CONTACTS
Branch Mailing Address
Box 416, Prince George, BC V2L 4S2
Phone or E-mail
President: Beth Bressette (250) 565-1025 email@example.com
Vice President: Shawnee Newton 1 (250) 568-2215 firstname.lastname@example.org
BURSARY – Application deadline May 5, 2023
Branch #1 is now offering a bursary to be awarded to a young person graduating Grade 12 and going on to post-secondary studies. The new bursary will be awarded annually based on contributions to the club by the applicant and their immediate family. Eligibility:
- The applicant must be an active/current member of the Branch for at least the past year
- The applicant and/or a member of the applicant’s immediate family must have contributed a minimum 10 hours of volunteer time to branch activities and events over the past calendar year (or year prior to covid shutdowns).
- The applicant must provide proof of enrollment in a full-time post-secondary program.
- Can be eligible for up to 4 years provided criteria is met each year.
- Up to $500 annually; amount to be determined by the board
Application process – Please submit a letter by May 5th that includes:
- a summary of your membership history with the branch
- details of the volunteer hours for the club completed by you and your immediate family, including the dates and a brief description of the contribution
- any notable music accomplishments over the past year
- your educational plans for the upcoming year
Mail: BC Old-time Fiddler’s Association – Branch #1 Box 416, Prince George, BC V2L 4S2.
For recent news and upcoming events check out our latest Branch #1 newsletter – click on date
Executive for 2023, elected at AGM January 14, 2023
- President: Beth Bressette
- Vice President: Shawnee Newton
- Treasurer: Michelle Sims
- Secretary: Richard Mansfield
- Alex Arnott
- Elizabeth Eakin
- Barry Nakahara
- Brian Orr
- Jolanda Van Dyk
73 Active Members, including 9 children/youth and 13 ‘Life Members’ (special designation with benefits awarded to those members who have provided exceptional volunteer support for the club). Within our membership there are 21 fiddlers and 20 backup musicians. Annual membership, due 01 September, is $16 for adults and free for children and teens with an adult member.
UPCOMING REGULAR EVENTS
MONTHLY DANCES – 2nd Saturdays. We’ve had four dances since the covid break, and they were lots of fun after such a dry period. At our last dance the hall was packed! Children, teens and adults of all ages enjoyed learning some of the group dances. Only two dances left before summer break: Saturdays Feb 11 and Mar 11. Time 7 – 11 pm at the Elks Hall, 663 Douglas St. Admission $10 (kids free), includes ice cream bar snacks.
WEEKLY JAM SESSIONS – every Tuesday evening 7 – 9 pm, September to June, 663 Douglas St. Cost $5 towards hall rent. All instruments welcome. For more information call (250) 565-1025
PLAYOUTS – groups of fiddlers and backup musicians volunteer their time on a rotating basis to regularly entertain at one of the seniors’ residences monthly from September to May, although many of these are still on hold due to Covid. Musicians also entertain at Special Events in the community as requested.
GUEST INSTRUCTORS – The club occasionally brings in a renowned fiddler to put on a concert and provide group instruction and individual private lessons if desired.
HISTORY of BRANCH #1
Informal fiddling jam sessions in the 1960s in Prince George led to the formation of the BC Old Time Fiddlers’ Association in 1968 in Prince George that would bring all fiddlers and backup musicians together to further promote and encourage the art of old-time fiddling. The founding members became the first board, but other enthusiasts quickly joined in. The board formed their own constitution and held their first contest in 1970. For the early years the contest was held in conjunction with the Fall Fair and was extremely popular. Guest fiddlers in the early years (who were also judges) included Al Cherney, Graham Townsend, Calvin Vollrath and Reg Bouvette. Fiddlers came from all over the province as well as Alberta and the US to enter the contests, which eventually led to the formation of other branches throughout the province. In 1978 a group was formed to head up a provincial association and Prince George became Branch #1 of the British Columbia Old Time Fiddlers’ Association. The Prince George club became very active in the 1970s and 80s, and in 1977 had two 16 foot giant fiddles built to scale that decorated parade floats and contest halls for many years. The Championship Contest continued to be held in Prince George for 1978 and 79, and after that it began to rotate throughout the branches. Prince George hosted the Provincial Championships in 1989 and 2014 to mark the club’s 20th and 45th Anniversaries. In November 2018 we had a fantastic evening to mark our 50 YEAR CELEBRATION. There was a full house of 135 tickets for a catered dinner, concert featuring former and current members performing tunes written by some of the early members, and a dance. We even brought in one last showing of our GIANT FIDDLES, which were created for the club in the 70s.
The first branch has evolved since its formation 53 years ago, and we currently have a good mix of all ages participating in jams, lessons, dances, jamborees, play-outs, performances and volunteering. The branch has grown and changed, and become a more vibrant part of the community. Like many other branches, the Prince George branch became concerned with decreasing numbers of contestants in the contests, and in 2015 replaced the contest with a Jamboree, a fun weekend filled with workshops for various levels of fiddling and backup, as well as a concert, dinner and dance. Our first five Jamborees have been great successes and plans are underway for the 6th Jambouree, which will happen in April.
Before Covid, our Thursday Jam nights brought 50 to 80 people out weekly at 7 pm; at least half of these folks come to listen and dance. On jam nights we offered group lessons in adjoining rooms, both beginner and intermediate/advanced, for the first 45 min while the accompanists had their opportunity to provide songs and music for the dancers in the main hall. A weekly group fiddle lesson was a dream of two of our members who have since passed away, Charlotte Lapp and Ardea Wylie. After their lesson this mixed group of children, teens and adults of all levels of ability then went on stage together to play some of the new tunes they had been learning, as well as other fiddle tunes, until 9:30 pm. As always, the fiddlers were joined by an array of backup musicians on stage and a room full of dancers on the floor, which gave them an opportunity to learn dance tempos and practise playing with other musicians. This group often opened for celebrity fiddlers that we hosted for concerts and workshops. They also played for community events as a large group, while smaller groups played regularly each month at 8 seniors’ residences. Besides our weekly jams we had monthly dances from September to March, with rotating groups of fiddlers and backup providing the dance music, and volunteers providing a lunch and bar.
Covid changed all of this, and when we couldn’t rent the previous hall we moved our Jamming to the Elks Hall. We have decided for now to stay at this venue, where we have a small circle jam instead of a big weekly dance. We are learning lots of new tunes and are able to perfect them by slowing them down when we need to, without worrying about the dancers. We don’t know for certain what the future will look like, but for now we are holding small jams and working on our tunes. Everyone is welcome to come out – to play, watch or dance.
The club is able to continue only as long as we have helpful and willing volunteers, which can be challenging in this busy day and age. We now have a Facebook page, a valuable way to share upcoming events and new fiddle tunes. With our membership at 62 and new fiddlers coming all the time, we believe the club is an inspiration to the community to develop an appreciation for old time fiddle music, as well as being a source of learning and enjoyment for all member musicians and supporters.
Annual General Meeting
- Last AGM was January 14, 2023, after a potluck. It was followed by our monthly dance.
- Next AGM will be held January 2024