Grande Praire & District Music Festival Association

History

The origin of the Grande Prairie Music Festival dates back to the “Women’s Music Club” that functioned actively in the year 1921. This organization was influential in the promotion of music festivals in Grande Prairie and can be considered the founding member of the Grande Prairie and District Music Festival. The early individual organizers of the Festival in Grande Prairie included Mrs. F. Barber-Smith, A.E. Galway, and L.B. Yule, Superintendent of Schools. 1927 saw the first joint festival with Peace River, held in Grande Prairie on May 25th and 26th. Because of difficulty of travel, Grande Prairie resumed its own festival activities in the year 1932. From then on, the Festival was held annually.

After 1945, when the festival became a non-competitive one, interest and calibre declined, and no festivals were held from 1949 -1951. Recorded history does not accurately portray the events that took place hereafter, save to indicate attempts at revival in 1951, success and revival in the years 1952 and 1953, and thereafter, inactivity until the year 1959. In 1959, Martin Intscher undertook, with a renewed interest in the community, the re-establishment of music festivals, and with the assistance of the Allied Arts Council and the Grande Prairie School Board, the next festival was held in the year 1962. Annual festivals have been held since that date. The 1962 festival included elocution, public speaking, penmanship, dancing, drama, arts and crafts, in addition to the music entries, and was called the Grande Prairie Art Festival.

A number of organizational innovations were introduced from time to time to attempt to improve the quality and calibre of participants in the Festival, and in this respect, in the year 1960 arrangements were made to share the festival on a rotation basis with the City of Dawson Creek. Only one such Festival was held in Dawson Creek, in the year 1964. This Festival was called the Peace Country Art Festival. In the year 1962, Grande Prairie joined the Alberta Music Festival Association and, through its affiliation with this association, has operated the festival for the benefit, not only of the citizens of Grande Prairie, but of the entire Peace River area. At this time, the name of the festival was changed to Grande Prairie and District Music Festival.

This festival would not be possible without the cooperation of the Grande Prairie Regional College and the churches and schools which offer their facilities free of charge. Some financial assistance comes from individual donors, local organizations and businesses. Administration and organization require hundreds of volunteer hours.

The end of 1998 brought us a major sponsor and we continue to be excited about this partnership. EnCana (formerly AEC) has not only donated funds to pay some of the operating costs of the festival; they have also donated a sculpture by Merv Bielish and a cash scholarship. This sculpture will remain at the Grande Prairie Regional College with a plaque resting in the trophy case honoring each winner of the trophy and scholarship. Winners will receive a photo plaque showing the presentation of the trophy to them. We are grateful for this sponsorship. From its early beginnings as a small two-day festival, the Grande Prairie and District Music Festival has grown to become a very full three-week event which ends with a final concert early in May. The calibre of entries has continued to improve over the years and many young artists from this area have gone on to achieve provincial and national recognition.

Past Presidents

1921 – 1926Unknown
1927L.B. Yule
1932 – 1942A.E. Galway
1943T.W. Mel Fowler
1944H.G. Melsness
1945 – 1946Sister Lucy
1947Stan Hambly
1948Walter Kujath
1952 – 1953J.A. Wilson
1962Martin Intscher
1963Mel Howey
1964K.G. Kingswell
1965 – 1966M.W. Howey
1967S. Kapcos
1968W. Warren
1969 – 1970Bill Bowes
1971Bill Lowe
1972Clem Collins
1973Sydney Larter
1974 – 1975Hugh Kidston
1976Rick McFadyen
1977 – 1978Norman Enns
1979George Simpson
1980 – 1981Art Piggott
1982 – 1983Al Robertson
1984 – 1986Hank Scheunhage
1987 – 1989Mary Wild
1990Margaret Bowes
1991 – 1993Ron Woolley
1994 – 1995Rosemary Smith
1996Marg Simpson
1997 – 1998Pam Steeves
1999 – 2001Lynne Dennis
2002 – 2006Patricia Larter
2007 – 2010Barbara Donkin
2010 – PresentDennis Fedeyko