The Grey County Kiwanis Festival of Music began in 1932 with a mission to advance and develop musical talent and education in Grey & Bruce Counties. The organization holds a yearly music competition and an awards night. The organization also nominates local musicians to attend the Ontario Music Festival Association’s (OMFA) provincial competition.
A competitive music festival is held for two weeks in April. Opportunities are provided for music students and community members to be professionally adjudicated and to perform before an audience. Awards are presented to assist musicians in their musical development.
The Festival is a not-for-profit organization that relies on the generosity of the community for their funding. Co-sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Owen Sound and the the Meaford Kiwanis, the festival is open to participants of all ages. In addition to the generous donations that the festival receives each year, the show could not go on without the dedication of the working board members and volunteers. The festival takes the entire year to prepare for and behind the scenes work is always going on.
How the festival originated:
The Grey County Music Festival began with an initial meeting in Nov. 1932 at the King George Hotel in Owen Sound. The driving force behind the festival was T. Stewart Cooper, Agricultural Representative for Grey County and a staunch Kiwanian.
Early festivals were held in Meaford from 1933-36, then in Owen Sound for 13 years followed by Markdale, Meaford, and Wiarton.
In Wiarton, the Rotary Club sponsored the festival for seven years. It returned to Owen Sound in 1956 under the sponsorship of the Chamber of Commerce.
When new sponsorship was sought in 1969 the Kiwanis Club of Owen Sound and the Scenic City Kiwanis Club became the sponsors. Ultimately, the Meaford Kiwanis Club became involved.
The Festival has grown over the years. The first festival, in 1933, had 90 entries and 350 participants. By 2005 participants had exceeded 5,000.
Next year the festival will be 50 years under the sponsorship of the Kiwanis Club.
– by Ann Kelly