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Grand 42nd showcase of fiddling and step dancing

By Celina Ip

Hundreds honoured a timeless tradition of music and dance at the 42nd annual Pembroke Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing Championships this past weekend.

 

Having served as the master of ceremonies since the very first contest 42 years ago, Art Jamieson was pleased to once again preside over the championships, alternating his duties with Paul Lemelin.

“We've seen some unbelievable talent over the years and every year that bar just goes up another notch. What they’re attempting today is something that 20 years ago the very best fiddlers wouldn’t even have thought about,” said Jamieson. “It’s such a personal culture here in the Ottawa Valley, fiddling and step dancing goes back many generations. We want to preserve that and we have to preserve that, it;'s such beautiful music.”

Following a stellar round of playdowns from Friday through Saturday morning, nine categories (nine-and-under fiddle and step dance; 12-and-under fiddle, step dance and group dance; 19-44, 45-64 and 65-and-over fiddle; and 19-49 and 50-and-over step dance) already had their champions crowned.

Once the Saturday evening festivities began, those early winners had the opportunity to showcase their award-winning talents.

Cobden’s Ian Hamilton – who had once again defended 45-64 fiddle championship – proudly stepped onstage with his dad accompanying him on guitar – as per family tradition – to perform an original song titled ‘Walking to Candy’.

“It’s always been a family tradition for my dad to perform onstage with me at this contest and it means the world to me that he was once again able to join me tonight,” said Hamilton. “He’s always been supporting me over the years and people always know us as the father-son duo.”

As a tribute to the late Gerry Smith who was a beloved member of the local fiddling community, Pembroke’s Toe Tapping Trio – winners of the ‘12 and under Group Dancing’ - performed a dance routine set to the ‘Art Jamieson Clog’ and ‘Sam’s Sugarbush Jig’ which had been written by Smith.

“Gerry Smith was a talented fiddle player who contributed so much to the fiddling and step dancing community, with fans and friends far and wide,” expressed Jamieson. “He competed at this contest for many years, and we all knew him very well.”

Along with those winning showcases, the evening welcomed back all of the competitors who had made it into the finals for the remaining classes (18-and-under fiddle and step dance, twin fiddle, group dancing, open fiddling and open step dance).

As competitor after competitor took to the stage, the judges attentively listened, watched, and critiqued the artistry before them.

Following the performances, the various classes gathered onstage as results were announced and awards were doled out left and right to the talented fiddle and step dance competitors.

“Each and every year the children get better and better and it gets  harder and harder to judge because the calibre that comes here is the best that there is in Canada – with some even coming from the States,” said Rhodina Turner, who has been serving as a step dancing judge at the contest for nearly 20 years. “And the Ottawa Valley itself is well known for having some of the top competitors and it's because of the teachers – we're very fortunate to have some great fiddling and step dancing teachers here in the Ottawa Valley.”

Val Therese’s Paul Lemelin – who also served as the assistant emcee for the contest – won the open fiddle class with a unique performance that wowed the judges and the audience.

“Being honest, being true to myself and my roots and just playing for the audience allowed me to do what I was able to do. First and foremost I want to put on a good show for the audience and I guess the judges noticed that and awarded me for it,” said Lemelin.

Oshawa’s Colleen Jenish, an Ontario and Maritime step dance champion as well as an accomplished classical violinist, took home the open step dance championship for the second consecutive year.

“It's very exciting and it's what I've worked towards since I was pretty small. I started dancing 20 years ago when I was four years old. Now I've been competing at this contest almost every year and it's a nice surprise to have my hard work pay off like this,” said Jenish.

Pembroke's Will March – who has been competing at the contest since he was seven years old – was presented with this year’s Euloine G. Trapp Memorial Scholarship as he prepares to head off to university.

“I’ve been playing the fiddle since I was seven years old and I just love it – I love the music. It's an honour to receive this scholarship and I plan on coming back to these competitions for many more years – I don't think I've ever missed this contest," said March.

The night ended with a grand finale during which all six judges came onstage for a spectacular fiddling and step dancing performance.

“It's great to see so many people here and the crowd continuing to support it after all these years. I love this old time music and to have these young people performing in that genre is really heartwarming,” said MPP John Yakabuski who has been attending the contest for the past 15 years. “I certainly congratulate all of the competitors, for them to take the stage it takes a lot of gumption and guts. I also want to take my hat off to the volunteers, some of them have been here the entire 42 years and the work that they do to make this all possible so we can enjoy it is really special.”

Here are the final results of the 42nd annual Pembroke Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing Championships, held Friday and Saturday night at the Pembroke Memorial Centre.

Open Fiddling:

1st place: Paul Lemelin, Val Therese, ON

2nd place: Kyle Burghout, Ottawa, ON

3rd place: Dan Mighton, Hanover, ON

4th place: Emma March, Pembroke, ON

5th place: Ethan Harty, Strome, AB

Finalist: Alannah Jenish, Oshawa, ON

Finalist: Germain Leduc, St. Stanislas de Kostka, QC

Finalist: Jane Cory, Winnipeg, MB

Finalist: Yvon Cuillerier, St. Bruno, QC

Finalist: Emily Yarascavitch, Oshawa, ON

Open Step Dancing:

1st place: Colleen Jenish, Oshawa, ON

2nd place: Grace Laceby, Sharon, ON

3rd place: Becky Reid, Arnprior, ON

4th place: Emma March, Pembroke, ON

5th place: Charlotte Clare, Orangeville, ON

Twin Fiddle:

1st place: Kyle Burghout, Ottawa, ON/ Jane Cory, Winnipeg, MB

2nd place: Will March/Emma March, Pembroke, ON

3rd place: Colleen Jenish/Alannah Jenish, Oshawa, ON

Group Dancing:

1st place: ElectriCall Storm, Stratford, ON

2nd place: Ready Step Go, Metcalfe, ON

3rd place: Unreel, Orangeville, ON

19-44 Fiddling:

1st place: Courtney Drew, Cookshire-Eaton, QC

2nd place: Megan Lavigueur, Eganville, ON

3rd place: Dan Stacey, Stratford, ON

4th place: Kyle Felhaver, Braeside, ON

45-64 Fiddling:

1st place: Ian Hamilton, Pembroke, ON

2nd place: Steve Jacobi, Equinunk, PA

3rd place: Charlie Walden, Evanston, IL

4th place: Cassandra Lea Swan, St. Catharines, ON

5th place: Bill Smith, Dunville, ON

65 and over Fiddling:

1st place: Maurice Billette, St. Barbe, QC

2nd place: Bruce Armitage, Quyon, QC

3rd place: Leo Ready, Pembroke, ON

4th place: Dennis Alexander, Aylmer, QC

19-49 Step Dancing:

1st place: Dan Stacey, Stratford, ON

2nd place: Emily Yarascavitch, Oshawa, ON

3rd place: Gabrielle Malis, Gatineau, QC

50 and over Step Dancing:

1st place: Susan Guzzo, Kanata, ON

2nd place: Callista Kelly, Osgoode, ON

3rd place: Lynn Toplitsky, Lefroy, ON

18 and under Fiddling:

1st place: Marley Mullan, Ottawa, ON

2nd place: Reid Warren, Metcalfe, ON

3rd place: Alex George, Almonte, ON

4th place: Will March, Pembroke, ON

5th place: Charlotte Van Barr, Kinburn, ON

Finalist: Maria Peppler, Orangeville, ON

Finalist: Beatrice Herwig, Eganville, ON

Finalist: Grace Greer, North Gower, ON

Finalist: Mika McCairley Greenwell, Guelph, ON

Finalist: Jeffrey Meier, Richmond, ON

18 and under Step Dancing:

1st place: Morgan Pleet, Gloucester, ON

2nd place: Leo Stock, Stratford, ON

3rd place: Katie Paradis, Milverton, ON

4th place: Beatrice Herwig, Eganville, ON

5th place: Clara Roth, Tavistock, ON

Finalist: Maria Peppler, Orangeville, ON

Finalist: Emma Lee, Metcalfe, ON

Finalist: Caroline Taylor, Osgoode, ON

Finalist: Charlotte Van Barr, Kinburn, ON

Finalist: Mika McCairley Greenwell, Guelph, ON

12 and under Group Dancing:

1st place: Toe Tapping Trio, Pembroke, ON

2nd place: Steptopia, Kinburn, ON

12 and under Fiddling:

1st place: Bennett Van Barr, Kinburn, ON

2nd place: Paige Roy, Chelsea, QC

3rd place: Alexis Mitchell, Omemee, ON

4th place: Kelsey Warren, Metcalfe, ON

5th place: Jaidon Mitchell, Omemee, ON

6th place: Katie McLochlan, White Lake, ON

12 and under Step Dancing:

1st place: Andrew Herwig, Eganville, ON

2nd place: Kelsey Warren, Metcalfe, ON

3rd place: Anna Tigani, Straford, ON

4th place: Georgia Lee, Metcalfe, ON

5th place: Cecille Greer, North Gower, ON

6th place: Alexis Mitchell, Omemee, ON

9 and under Fiddling:

1st place: Dexter Sernoskie, Golden Lake, ON

2nd place: Adrien LaRue, Stittsville, ON

3rd place: Lauren Biggs, Pembroke, ON

4th place: Neala Martin, Waterloo, ON

5th place: Adlai Martin, Waterloo, ON

6th place: Cadimhe Doyle, Oshawa, ON

9 and under Step Dancing:

1st place: Addison Felhaver, Arnprior, ON

2nd place: Savanna Crigger, Pembroke, ON

3td place: Serena Sernoskie, Golden Lake, ON

4th place: Claire Noble, Pembroke, ON

5th place: Marijke DeVries, Pembroke, ON

6th place: Kate Sell, Pembroke ON

cip@postmedia.com