The 55 year may be the last

The Lakes District Music and Speech Arts Festival celebrates its 55 anniversary in March 2012.

As the Lakes District Music and Speech Arts Festival celebrates its 55 anniversary in March 2012, organizers are facing the possibility that this will be the festival’s swan song.

In view of declining entries and lack of community support, the Festival Association is regretfully concluding that a music festival is no longer viable in the Lakes District.

“We are seeing fewer entries each year,” said Louise Rompen, president of the association.

“A small group of dedicated volunteers has been organizing and staging this event for a long time. We need new blood if we are to keep going.”

From its small beginnings in 1957 the festival grew into a healthy and influential event, drawing entries from Prince George, Vanderhoof, Houston, Smithers and Terrace.

Ironically, the majority of entries now come from these communities.

Participation by local schools and individuals has decreased dramatically.

While speech arts, voice and piano are still included, the categories of dance, strings, band and instrumental are no longer offered.

The decision to retire or continue the festival depends in large part on public response.

The current syllabus is available at the Burns Lake Public Library, Western Financial Group in the mall, the Artisan Centre, the SEDA Centre on the Southside and Country Wide Printing in Houston. Entries are due by Feb. 1, 2012.

“The festival is a wonderful opportunity for music, speech arts and voice students of all ages to gauge their progress and to benefit from the advice of a professional adjudicator,” said Rompen.

“But anyone can enter – you do not need to be taking formal lessons.”

The emphasis has shifted away from competition to focus on personal growth and education. As a step in this direction, last year the trophies were retired and replaced with gold and silver participant ribbons. Instead of first, second and third place, each colour represents a specific range of marks.

Workshops presented by the adjudicators encourage students to improve their skills.

Those wishing for more information on the festival and how to become involved can phone Rompen at 250-698-7407.