Local talent shines at annual Fiddle Festival

The Fiddle Friends perform ‘Danny Boy’ during the Prince Albert Winter Festival Fiddle Show at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Sunday. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Year after year, performance after performance, Kerri English is always impressed with the level of talent on display at the Prince Albert Winter Festival Fiddle Show

The longtime show coordinator has seen plenty of local acts take to the stage, some of which are even more popular around Saskatchewan than in the Prince Albert area. English said it’s a special treat to show local music lovers just how strong Prince Albert’s music scene is.

“Every year I have a fun time pulling these players out that people haven’t seen as much,” English said on Monday. “(They’re) playing in little venues all over Saskatchewan, but maybe the people of Prince Albert don’t really know that they’re their own, so it’s really nice to be able to showcase that.”

Despite the cold weather, music lovers packed the E.A. Rawlinson Centre for Sunday’s performance. English said it’s amazing to see such strong community support year after year, and attendees didn’t leave disappointed.

Sunday’s lineup included young performers just starting out and veterans like winter festival honorary chair John Kushneryk, a four-time winner of the Western Canadian Fiddle Championship.

“I’ve been bugging John for years,” English chuckled. “I know he’s an awesome fiddle player. He retired for a bit, and I’ve been hounding him (to come out and play). Finally, this year was the year. It’s a special year when he’s the honorary chair of the winter festival, so it’s super awesome to see him.”

English added that she’s always impressed with the professionalism of the players, who often aren’t able to rehearse with the on-stage band until the day of the show. Their commitment, and support from the community, has created a unique event she’s grateful to be a part of.

“I’m very proud of all these people who are able to come out and play, and very thankful for the crowd and the winter festival for allowing us to do a show like this,” she said. “It’s a very big honour.”

The Prince Albert Winter Festival continues with the Country North Show from Feb. 12-14 at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. All shows start at 7 p.m. For a complete list of festival events and venues, visit www.princealbertwinterfestival.com, or see the full schedule on page 13 of the Feb. 7 edition of the Daily Herald.