The Meridian Arts Festival will mark 20 years this April and continues to encourage local musicians, singers, actors and speakers to deliver their best performances.
Organizer and music teacher Patsy Andrews-Vert said she was originally inspired to start the regional festival— which includes the RMs of Cartier and Macdonald— after she moved from Saskatchewan into the area. At that time, her students had to travel to festivals in Stonewall or Morden if they wished to compete.
The Meridian Festival usually attracts about 200 entrants, which is a manageable number, according to Andrews-Vert.
"Around the 200 mark is really good," she said, adding that during one year the entry number jumped to over 300, making it tough to schedule all the performers.
This year’s festival runs from April 11 to 22 with all performances taking place in Starbuck’s Trinity Lutheran Church. Entrants ranging in age from five to 95 will compete in piano, band — including woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion and guitar, vocals, choir, speech and drama.
She is one of three committee members who voluntarily organize the annual event. "It’s one of those projects that kind of runs itself."
However the members are looking for new recruits who are willing to learn and eventually take over responsibility for organizing the festival.
Along with the organizing committee, about 40 local volunteers help to keep things running on time.
The festival ends with a highlights concert on April 22 at 7 p.m. in the church. Andrews-Vert said this is usually well-attended.
Some of the winners in the various disciplines can go on to compete in the provincial arts festival.
The deadline for entries in the Meridian Arts Festival is Feb. 28 and information is available at www.meridianartsfestival.wetpaint.com.