A scene from the 2017 Where The Rivers Meet Country Bluegrass Jamboree. File photo

Where the Rivers Meet Country Bluegrass Jamboree: a brief history of the Quesnel festival

The Cariboo Country Bluegrass Society reminisces about their time hosting the jamboree

This year marks the 22nd Where The Rivers Meet Country Bluegrass Jamboree held in Quesnel.

Do you ever wonder if the founding fathers thought this event would last this long and still be so well-received when they planned the first event? Festivals and jamborees have come and gone over the years, and Quesnel’s jamboree is still going strong thanks to dedicated volunteers and supportive community sponsors.

So much has changed over the years, and yet it still remains the same in a lot of ways. Good music, fabulous venue, affordable weekend passes and good times.

There have been five presidents over the years: RJ Proulx, Peter Couldwell, Neil Huntsley, Ken Knoke and at present Elodianne Browning. When RJ was president things were much more simple: the schedules and notes were hand written at his kitchen table, without a computer or cell phone in sight. The first program was one sheet of paper and made by Connie Goulet and the Metis Society.

Thanks to Bob Michek, Southhill Graphics, C&C Wood Products, Connections Inc., and Big Country Printers a souvenir booklet is printed each year.

In the beginning, the jamboree was intent on helping the Seniors’ Centre pay down the mortgage on their building. To that end, a portion of the revenue from each jamboree was donated to the Senior’s Society until this was accomplished. The jamboree flourished under the umbrella of the Senior’s Society until they branched out on their own and formed their own society.

The mission from the start was to provide scholarships for up and coming young musicians to pursue their musical talent. A great many young people have benefited from this and it is the society’s wish to have this continue for years to come. With the jamboree intended to help young musicians, fellow musician Arlene Loxterkamp stepped up and donated an Emerald Fiddle one year. This was presented to Shania Boichat and since that time a musical instrument has been presented to a deserving youngster each year. The youngster who would like to receive the instrument has to fill out a questionnaire and the winner is selected by a committee and presented to the youngster during the jamboree.

A great many bands have graced the stage over the years, some with memorable names like Uncle Elmer and the Hayseeds, Good News Band, Bluegrass Connection, Farmers’ Wives, Evergreen Drifters, Vintage Wine, South Wind, Dizzy Strings, Isabelle Marie, Lakeside Ramblers and the list goes on. Sadly, many of these fine musicians are no longer with us but their memory will always live on.

In 2000, Garth and Susan Pelkey painted a beautiful back drop with the help of two Quesnel Secondary students, Graeme Jones and Yvonne Ethier, this backdrop is still the signature sign of the jamboree. A song honouring the jamboree was written by Donna Christiansen and Dave Anderson called Where The Rivers Meet and this was the theme song for the jamboree.

Sponsors have been a huge mainstay, the community spirit is strong and giving. Some of the sponsors have been with the jamboree since the beginning and everyone is so grateful to each and every one of them.

When Peter Couldwell was president he always said: “if we have enough money in the kitty to start next year, give them good music, present it right and a friendly atmosphere, they will return again and again.”

We hope we are living up to your expectations, Peter.

This article was submitted by the Cariboo Country Bluegrass Society.

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