A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WENDY BROOK
MUSIC FESTIVAL ASSOCIATION
The Wendy Brook Music Festival takes place in and around Vegreville, a community of more than 5000 people, about 100 km east of Edmonton, Alberta. The Festival has been an annual event since 1979. It has grown from a one day event to 8 days of adjudications in piano, strings, vocals, bands, Ukrainian language music and speech, English language speech arts, community and family music followed by a concert of select performances and the presentation of many awards.
To describe the history of the Festival one has to go back to the 1970's and beyond. First came the Wendy Brook Women’s Institute which did all the many good things that WIs have been doing for rural families for more than a century. Although the Wendy Brook WI no longer exists, it left a great legacy for the Vegreville region in the form of the Music Festival and the Community Christmas Carol Concert. The WI started the Wendy Brook Carol Concert on December 17th 1961 and continued for 25 years, after which the Rotary Club took over. But the Wendy Brook Committee came back to organize a special “end-of-the-millennium” Christmas Concert in December 1999 with three massed community choirs of children and adults. These choirs also performed at the Music Festival Concert of 2000.
In 1979 the intrepid ladies of the Wendy Brook WI started a music festival with the help of teachers, members of the business community and many other faithful friends over the ensuing years. In 1978 the Women’s Institute had donated scholarships to two young girls to take part in summer music programs. From this start they moved, the following year, 1979, to a one day music festival at Queen Elizabeth School. More than 50 children took part and were adjudicated by Professor Robert de Frece of the University of Alberta. Even after the Wendy Brook WI ceased to exist, the festival committee continued under the direction of the original members of the WI and the community at large. Many volunteers have come and gone in that time.
The Wendy Brook Music Festival has over time been generously funded primarily by community donations both from individuals and businesses. In the course of time the Festival committee incorporated as a non-profit association in Alberta and a few years later became a registered charitable organization with Canada Revenue and thus able to issue receipts for tax purposes.
Over the years the festival has gradually grown to cover as much as three and a half days of piano entries with band and other instruments, speech arts, Ukrainian language classes, violin, and vocal, family & community music taking another day each, each with a dedicated adjudicator. After all these years there are now children taking part in the festival whose parents were participants in early festivals. So this event has been part of life for a whole generation of Vegreville children. We hope that the festival continues to be a vital and vibrant part of life in the region.