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Fiddle camp cancelled

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 28, 2010

K'ATLODEECHE/HAY RIVER RESERVE - A fiddle camp planned by the Kole Crook Fiddle Association for next month on the Hay River Reserve has been cancelled.

NNSL photo/graphic

Linda Duford, a well-known Hay River fiddler, is pictured in 2008 instructing at a fiddle camp on the Hay River Reserve. She was going to instruct again this year, but the camp has been cancelled. - NNSL file photo

The eighth annual camp which would have been held on the reserve for the third consecutive year was set for July 5 to 9.

Linda Duford, a Hay River fiddler and an association board member, said the camp was cancelled on June 18 because of low registration.

"The cold hard fact is we didn't have the registration to warrant doing it," she said.

Last year, the camp attracted 108 participants - children and adults - from around the NWT and 105 the year before.

"This year, going into the last two weeks before the camp we had 35," Duford said. "We had kind of set that 60 was the very least that we could do and we didn't look like we were going to make it."

She believes the economic downturn is the reason for the low registration.

"It was a lot to do with economics," she said, adding the registration fee is $300 for association members and $330 for non-members, plus there would be travel costs for out-of-town participants.

Duford said it costs nearly $60,000 to run the camp. Aside from money raised in fees, grants come from the NWT Arts Council, the GNWT and businesses.

Among other things, the money helps pay for the camp's dozen or so instructors, including some from the south.

Duford said instead of having a one-week camp on the reserve, the association is going to a hold a number of weekend mini-camps in a number of communities.

"It's a lot cheaper," she said. "They don't need a chaperone and it's a lot more cost effective. Everybody loves the camp, but this is fun, too."

Duford was going to instruct at the camp and said the association is not deterred by the cancellation.

"We actually see this as an opportunity because we think that maybe the mini-camps going into the different communities may be much more beneficial to the kids, and we might be able to reach more kids than previously who might not have had the opportunity to come to a camp," she said.

Gerda Hazenburg, president of the Kole Crook Fiddle Association, said southern instructors say registration has declined at fiddle camps across Canada because of the poor economy.

"I really believe families are more cautious than they used to be," she said.

The association is disappointed by the camp's cancellation, she added. "But we are looking forward to some good workshops."

Hazenburg is quite confident the camp will return to the Hay River Reserve next year.

"Hopefully, next year it will bounce back," she said.

Tamara Graham, a 12-year-old on the Hay River Reserve, had planned to attend the camp for a third year.

"I'm kind of disappointed," she said. "I was looking forward to learning songs and meeting new friends."

She now hopes to attend the mini-camp in Hay River.

Duford said that mini-camp will be held July 2 to 4 to coincide with the Hay Days music and cultural festival.

A final list has not been completed but other mini-camps may be held over the summer and into the fall in Fort Simpson, Fort Smith and Gameti, along with possibly Fort Providence, Fort Resolution and Kakisa.

The association is looking at making the Hay River Reserve the camp's permanent home, Duford said.

"So that was the biggest disappointment that there was not the continuation, but when you look at other big events sometimes they have to miss a year and they come back stronger than ever. We're looking at it that way."

Duford said the reserve is perfect for the camp because it is secluded but not isolated and residents are supportive.

Over the years the camp has been held in various communities including Fort Smith, Yellowknife and Fort Simpson.

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