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Fiddling around in Fort Simpson
Annual jamboree gives people of all ages an opportunity to play

Shane Magee
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, January 22, 2015

The sound of fiddle music filled the halls of Bompas Elementary School this past weekend as the Fort Simpson Fiddle Jamboree returned to the village.

NNSL photo/graphic

McKayla Thwaites looks at what her bandmates are doing during a performance at the Fort Simpson Fiddle Jamboree on Jan. 17. - Shane Magee/NNSL photo

After a full day of lessons in small groups, the 90 participants came together to perform as one on Saturday evening.

Maverick Simba-Canadien, 11, from Kakisa was among 60 young students who came from communities outside the village to take part in the event.

"It was fun," Simba-Canadien said about taking part with the black fiddle she owns and practices with at home.

The three-day jamboree organized by the Kole Crook Fiddle Association began Jan. 16 and featured eight fiddle instructors from various parts of the country.

Participants showed off what they learned during a community concert and dance at the school gym Saturday evening.

Association president Gerda Hazenberg said the weekend went well.

"It was very successful," said Hazenberg, a former Fort Simpson resident.

That's despite the bus carrying most of the instructors breaking down between Yellowknife and the village last Friday. While they did eventually make it to the community, it was too late for the opening ceremony.

The jamboree can be tough to plan logistically with the instructors coming from various parts of the country.

That travel also means it costs a lot for the association to hold the event.

She said the $85 registration fee paid by participants doesn't fully cover the bills.

But the goal, she said, is to build stronger communities.

"I'm so encouraged," she said. "I see a great future for the North if we work with our young people, if we have fun with them."

Simba-Canadien also said a nice thing about the weekend was being able to meet new people and make friends.

The jamboree is something she wants to do again, she said.

This year saw a larger number of people attending, but Hazenberg said that's because poor weather and several other factors conspired to keep people from other Deh Cho communities home last year.

The highlight of this past weekend for Hazenberg came as the Saturday evening dance came to a close.

After musicians finished playing a waltz, she said there were still teens who wanted to continue dancing.

So, an encore was held and she said about 50 young people filled the dance floor.

"That was inspiring," she said, adding they did a jig until everyone was exhausted.

The association that held the event takes its name from Kole Crook.

Crook, born in Hay River, learned to play the fiddle and was in high demand at various community events.

According to the association's website, he spent the last months of his life in Wrigley before his death on New Years Eve in 2001.

Friends wanted to carry on his legacy by teaching young Wrigley residents how to play the fiddle, and from there the association that brings fiddling to young Northerners was born.

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