Fiddler contest returning to winter fair

·2 min read

The lively strains of jigs and reels will dance through the air at the 48th annual Royal Fiddlers Contest, which returns to the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair this month.

The contest, to take place on March 29 at 7 p.m. at the Manitoba Hydro Amphitheatre inside the Keystone Centre, will feature old-time fiddle classes for ages seven and under, eight to 10, 11 to 13, 14 to 16, 17 and older, and seniors aged 55 and up.

Métis-style fiddle classes for children aged 10 and under, 11 to 16, and 17 and older will also be open to people of all ethnicities. Leah LaPlante, vice-president of the southwest division of the Manitoba Métis Federation, said her organization is proud to be one of the sponsors of the fiddlers contest.

“It was our way of wanting to show that Métis are very proud of our fiddle players, and it was just another way we should show them all that they’re appreciated for the skills they have,” LaPlante told the Sun.

Fiddle music has always been an important art of Métis culture, marked by the percussive use of the bow and percussive accompaniment. Fiddles were first introduced to Indigenous groups when Scottish and French fur traders made contact with them in the early 1800s.

Promoting fiddle music within Métis communities as well as teaching and sharing about it with all Manitobans not only gives her people something to be proud of but is an important part of truth and reconciliation, LaPlante said.

“It’s important that we continue to work really hard to give our young people the opportunity to have that pride in themselves, and to have friends who are not Métis — other young people, musicians.”

Teaching the art of fiddle playing also strengthens the bond between older and younger generations of Métis people, said LaPlante, who grew up in the Turtle Mountain area seeing first-hand how expert fiddlers would teach younger children and the affects it had on her community.

“I think it’s important for us to always show those young people that it’s important in our culture, and that their love of music came from generations of people who were fiddle players.”

Entries for the fiddle show are now being accepted online at The deadline to enter is March 24, but participants will have the opportunity to register in person as well.

This year’s Royal Manitoba Winter Fair will run from March 27 to April 1. Tickets are on sale now at

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun