Princeton hosts Western Canada’s only festival devoted exclusively to traditional music

From a Doukhobor choir to folk singers, singer songwriters, Celtic music and the British Columbia Regiment Band, the Princeton Traditional Music Festival is one of the most unique festivals in B.C.

This totally free festival brings in musical talent from across North America to celebrate all things traditional music, and is the only festival in Western Canada that exclusively features traditional music. The streets of downtown Princeton, B.C. close to cars and the festival takes over the streets.

Founded by Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat, the festival is considered a testament to their life long commitment to this form of music. They are singers of traditional song and scholars of ballads, shanties, and other folk songs. The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, and its success, is a testimony to their passion and hard work.

“We have been singing songs of British Columbia for over 50 years. The songs and the history behind them is our passion. Some of the songs we sing were collected in Princeton during the last century. We decided it would be wonderful to share some of this musical culture in the place in which it was born. It was also an opportunity to invite our extended, international musical community to come to Princeton and party,” explains Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat.

“Traditional music is music that has been passed on orally from one generation to the next. It’s music that comes out of communities and is about everyday life. Examples of traditional music are sea shanties, murder ballads, logging, mining and fishing songs as well as dance

tunes on instruments such as fiddles, banjos, accordions and harmonicas.”

Bartlett and Ruebsaat said those attending the festival for the first time this year can expect to hear music that they’ve probably never heard before (songs from B.C. history, a Doukhobor choir, songs from the Republic of Georgia etc.).

“It’s a great way to spend the day meandering through picturesque downtown Princeton, hearing w onderful music, meeting other visitors and stopping for a meal or a milkshake,” adds Ruebsaat.

A loyal following have been attending the festival for years and say they keep coming back because the festival feels like a big neighbourhood party, that’s welcoming friendly and congenial where they can hear music that they can’t hear anywhere else.

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