Rotary Music Festival has a long tradition in Weyburn

One of the bigger music festivals in Saskatchewan, the Weyburn Rotary Music Festival, just wrapped up another year of competition and awards, and several competitors are moving on to the provincial level, continuing a long tradition in Weyburn.

Heather Sidloski, president of the Music Festival committee, gave a presentation on the annual event to the members of the Weyburn Rotary Club, the name sponsor of the festival for many years now.

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The festival competition runs for the first three weeks of March each year with the Stars of the Festival afterward where the awards and scholarships are presented, along with performances from each of the categories.

This year, there were 192 piano entries, which is down a bit from past years, along with 91 vocal entries and 46 band-instrumental entries.

The Weyburn festival is affiliated with the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association, which began in 1909. Currently there are 47 festivals across the province.

“All music festivals are volunteer-run district festivals, with over 70,000 volunteers and participants,” said Sidloski. “It’s very much about impacting the lives of our young people.”

This year, the National Music Festival will be held in Saskatoon on Aug. 8-10, to be hosted by the SMFA and the University of Saskatchewan.

The Weyburn Rotary Club has provided funds on a yearly basis for over 50 years, said Sidloski, with a $1,000 grant that allows the festival to keep their entry fees at a low level. The fee is $13 per entry, which is low compared to entering a festival in Regina or Saskatoon where it’s $25 a class, she said.

A former Weyburn Rotary member, Gordon Liddle, was also a past president of the Weyburn Music Festival and was involved in getting the Rotary Club behind the festival as a name sponsor.

In addition, Rotary provides $800 a year for scholarships, with $600 provided for the Alex Findlay Memorial Scholarship, and $200 is for a vocal award. This year, a total of 47 awards and scholarships were handed out at the Stars of the Festival.

The quality of the adjudicators they are able to bring in every for the festival is one reason the event is held in high regard, said Sidloski, and she noted the adjudicators often make the comment about the community support and spirit of the festival which gives it a different atmosphere than other festivals.

Asked if there is an age limit for taking part in the festival, Sidloski noted that in the open classes, any age can participate, but otherwise only those 18 and under can compete for the scholarships that are available. The youngest performer this year was a four-year-old pianist.