Miramichi Folksong Festival
Miramichi Folksong Festival. This festival was founded in 1958 by Louise Manny in Newcastle, NB, and has been held annually in August (or, for several years, June) at the Lord Beaverbrook Theatre and Town Hall (later named the Beaverbrook Kin Centre). Other venues have included the Miramichi Civic Centre. Under the direction of Manny (1958-69), Maisy Mitchell (1970-82), and Susan Butler (beginning in 1983), the Miramichi Folksong Festival has provided a platform for traditional folksingers and storytellers from the Miramichi area and from elsewhere in Canada and the US. Local performers have included Marie Hare and Allen Kelly, heard annually for more than 50 years, as well as Susan Butler, Frank and Ray Estey, John and Robert McKay, Wilmot MacDonald, Charlie Slane, and Hubert Sweezy.
For many years, only amateurs were eligible to perform; the festival thus encouraged performers to maintain and expand their repertoires, thereby contributing to the preservation of the folk tradition and providing scholars with the opportunity to hear and analyse folk material in its purest form. In 1984, however, the festival's scope began to broaden in order to encourage the participation of young people. By 1990 the festival had grown from three to six nights and offered, in addition to its longstanding traditional activities, a fiddling contest (established in 1989), children's and seniors' shows, songwriting and fiddling workshops, and performances by contemporary artists (eg, John Allan Cameron, Ron Hynes, Tom Lewis, Rita MacNeil, Alan Mills, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Bill Staines, Graham Townsend, and Valdy).
Folk Songs of the Miramichi. 1959. Folk 4053
A Night at the Miramichi Folksong Festival. 1984. MFF 3301 [not recorded during the festival proper]
Miramichi and its Folksong Festival: Lumber and River Songs [recorded in Newcastle, NB]. 1992. Smithsonian Folkways