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COLUMN: New festival would be win-win

Word on the street in Rankin Inlet has a group of folks coming together this past weekend in hopes of forming a committee to establish a second music festival in Rankin Inlet.

I write second out of courtesy to our Fire Chief Mark Wyatt and his band of merry fundraisers at the Rankin department, who host the annual Solfest event as a fundraiser for the local fire department and ambulance crew.
I have long marvelled at the overall musical talent in the Kivalliq, and another showcase for that talent in our region’s hub comes with a lot of potential upside.
Cost, of course, is the major deterrent to such an endeavour in our neck of the tundra. The committee members and the group of volunteers they’re able to attract to their noble cause will have a long year ahead on the road of fundraising and obtaining sponsorships.
I’ve followed along with the Arviat music festival for years, as best as one can from a distance, and came within a sour note or two of actually having the chance to attend it two or three years ago (the memory fades with age).
I was humbled and quite excited to receive the invitation from one Mr. John Main but, alas, when you’re dealing with four or five individuals – all with family, work and other commitments – things don’t always work out and it was not meant to be.
I sincerely hope our lost chance to attend was not my one-and-only shot at sharing the stage with the Gord Billard Band for a tune or three.
From what I’ve seen in photos and videos graciously sent to me, and from talking to performers and festival-goers alike, the Arviat event is well-organized, run quite efficiently, and is a boatload of fun for both performers and attendees.
So, I will take it on the feedback I’ve received concerning the Arviat festival – without firsthand knowledge – that a template of sorts does exist for the good folks looking to get one cooking in Rankin.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed a great deal about Kivalliq music gatherings, based on those I’ve been fortunate enough to attend during the past 20 years, is how eclectic the music tends to be at these events.
As those who know me personally will attest, I often struggle to hear what people actually appreciate about country-and-western music, but I have found – sandwiched between some old hoedown fiddle playing, a foot-stomping, wailing accordion, folksy blues wistfulness, gospel celebration and some good old rock and roll – the foot actually taps once or twice and I’m able to ignore the depressing nature of most of the country lyrics. But I digress.
I hope to touch base with a newly appointed committee member this week to be able to gauge the scope of the Rankin festival they envision.
Whether the event ends up being by invitation or artist submission, I sincerely hope their intention is for a fairly open-mic approach to the event to encourage as many of our local performers to take to the stage as possible.
A regional festival is a dream of many music lovers in the Kivalliq, myself included, but that is a grand stage to try to attempt right out of the gate and one, in my humble opinion, best left for another day, thanks to the wonderful world of logistics, air travel and associated costs.
On a modest scale, a well-run and organized Rankin music festival holds the promise of being beneficial to the community, itself, as well as our talented stable of local entertainers.
Here’s hoping the initial meeting of the folks looking to make this happen was a productive one, and we’ll be hearing much more about the upcoming 2019 Rankin music festival in the months to come.
The establishment of such an event holds the promise of being a win-win situation for everyone involved. Good luck to the potential organizers.