Rideau Rural Roots Festival


by Festival Nomad "Scoop" Correspondent, Judi McWilliams

As I watched CTV Morning Live, I heard about the new festival in Smith Falls this summer. The RIDEAU RURAL ROOTS FESTIVAL, held at Lower Reach Park, would help "celebrate all Smith Falls has to offer". The community support is great in Smith Falls!  At the entrance the Festival Crew welcomed us to the new event. It was the music that led us to the band shell where two young children were singing to an appreciative audience. Non-stop entertainment on the main stage continued all weekend long with the Chinese cultural performers, followed by the Cesar Ricardo Band. In the afternoon the Richmond Ramblers Bluegrass with Elly Wedge (15-year-old champion fiddler and step dancer) performed followed by the Chinese cultural performers (part two) and then Pete Eastmure and Welldiggers Band. There were also Portuguese Dancers, Second Sight, Touch of Class  and Simon Clarke performing.

It was here that we found our old friend and organizer of this event, Jim MacPherson. This event was very community spirited and involved many local vendors, business, groups and more. One display was Mel’s Farm All Animal Rescue, where you could see the passion and dedication to helping animals in the community. Train rides for the kids, driven by a “real train conductor” captured a lot of interest of the families who attended. Even the “older folks” took a ride. Face painting for young and old. The Junk Yard Symphony took us by surprise. The musical instruments were literally “junk”. Pots, pans, barrels, sticks made for interesting musical entertainment. Their “GOT2DRUM” license plate described this area quite well.

The Rideau Rural Roots Kids Zone had lots of fun for everyone, including Lil John Magic and Balloon Twisting, Tim Holland and the Puppet Tamer,  Junk Yard Symphony, Deputy Doodle, Billy the Kidder, face painting, good old fashions games. It turns out that Deputy Doodle is not only a “funny cowboy” when he performs, he is a great sketch artist. We had fun watching him create a drawing for the kids. The Crime Stoppers booth is always a great place to stop and check up on new ideas to share with grandkids, family and friends. I was interested to learn at the “Gift of Live”, which the system for becoming a registered “donor” had changed recently. They told me that a lot of people, myself included, think that the previous “green and white donor card”, that they have in their wallet, is still sufficient be a donor. Not true! This new Ontario Government registration process is much more sophisticated as it keep track. If you are interested in the new system and how to make sure you are a “donor” (if you choose), you can check their website at www.gifeoflife.on.ca.

In the Kinsmen building there was a heritage display and unique photo opportunity to dress in vintage clothing. This was compliments of the Station Theatre, Valley Heartland and the Brockville Museum, and an opportunity to meet area photographer Chris Uhlig and view his display of antique photo equipment and historic artifacts. We could not believe how amazing this display of old camera and photographic equipment was. It is unlikely you will find this rare collection anywhere else. Chris Uhlig has been collecting these amazing pieces of “history” for a long time. He mentioned that one of his biggest challenges in preserving the equipment, is humidity control and moisture. Getting the right balance is challenging and finding the right environment is key to keeping the quality and preservation of these artifacts. Chris was kind to let us look through the lens of a camera where the “mirror” was inverted. When you looked at the subject to be “photographed”, it appeared inverted in the lens. Gary was most amused by the bird “whistle” that Chris used to capture the attention of children when “shooting”.  

Although we did not stay for the evening, this festival offered a percussion workshops with Lois Seigel; an Agricultural Heritage Discussion with Eugene Fytche, on evolution of fencing in Lanark County and surrounding area and a Spanish music workshop.  The main stage offered gospel music with the Park Clyne Brothers Band, Jazz and Winding Roads. The Rideau Rural Roots Festival  in Smith Falls was a great way to spend a delightful afternoon.