February 1, 2002
Fiddlers and other musicians from throughout Aroostook County and Western New Brunswick are preparing for the area's largest jam session and house party at the Mardi Gras Fiddlers Jamboree on Sunday, February 10, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
The event, sponsored by UMFK's French Heritage Council, is an annual favorite held during the Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Mardi Gras celebration.
"What's so much fun about this event is that you don't know what blend of musicians you will get until they show up," said jamboree organizer Lisa Ornstein.
The spontaneous and informal gathering of musicians is a feature that makes this event so unique. According to Ornstein, changing the structure of the event to transform it into a more formal concert would be spoiling a recipe for success.
"The old-fashioned, make your own fun, house party atmosphere is what makes this event the success that it is. The real homey setting that evolves into a feeling of being in someone's kitchen is most inviting to the musicians and audience members alike," said Ornstein.
In addition to being an event that audience members look forward to each year, the jamboree is also a favorite of the musicians who perform.
One group, the Wednesday Evening Fiddlers, that gather every Wednesday evening in Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, attends the event more than a dozen strong.
This year, a group of nine year olds from the Fort Kent Elementary School fiddling class, which is taught by Ornstein, will make their so-called debut.
Ornstein is always amazed at the wide cross-section of people who attend the event.
"The crowd seems to grow every year, and at the same time becomes more diverse. We see one-year olds on up to 90 year olds enjoying themselves side by side," said Ornstein.
The occasional audience member turned step dancer is not uncommon and indeed encouraged at this event.
The Mardi Gras Fiddlers Jamboree is open to the public at no charge, beginning Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in UMFK's Bengal's Lair. Refreshments will be served.
For more information, contact Ornstein at 834-7536.