Classic Country Saturdays in Garden River First Nation.  -- Photo by Ann Marie Jones

Classic Country Saturdays in Garden River First Nation. — Photo by Ann Marie Jones

By Margaret Hele

The nostalgia of years gone by was brought back in force at the Classic Country Sundays Holiday Festival hosted at the Garden River Recreational Centre.

“ I really wish my dad could be here,” said Chief Paul Syrette who attended with his family. “I grew up with this music. My dad played with Danny Boy. It’s nice to see the square dancing and the seniors enjoying themselves.”

Pam Perreault said that it was just like old-time community family gatherings.

“Lots of great music, dancing and food,” said Pam Perreault.

“Brings back good memories of old times when we danced at the church and the community hall,” added Walter Perreault.

Ruby John, an internationally-acclaimed fiddle player from Traverse City was the evening’s special guest and thrilled the crowd with her fiddle playing and singing.

“ I love it up here. Love playing with the band,” said Ruby. “ I have been coming up at least twice a year for the past three year.”

“A wonderful thing, the family(Jones) work so hard to put this event on,” said Cindy John. “There are many talented people here. They just go up and take their turn.”

Dolly Syrette read poems from her newly published book. Syrette published her book of poems using the money that she received from the Residential School Settlement. Syrette’s book launch will take place in 2016, at the next Residential School reunion.

Dave Anich, the lead singer and guitar player in one of the bands was recognized by many as “The Tire Man”. They see him when they have their tires changed at Total Tire. Noah Anich, Dave’s young son, sang five songs during the time that his father strummed the guitar. Noah looks forward to learning to play the guitar.

Chief Paul Syrette thanked the people who organized this event and the volunteers. Syrette asked for a moment of silence for a member of the Garden River community who had passed. Grace was then said In Ojibway before the meal. The music continued throughout the meal.

A different band then took over to continue. Kailyn Boissoneau, 13 years old sang Travelling Soldier and Will the Circle be Unbroken. “I Saw the Light” was chosen by the band as the ending song for this Classic Country Sundays event .

Dan Jones, Acting Recreational Manager is the key organizer in planning and producing Country Classic Sundays once every month throughout the year.

As a fund raiser for this special Christmas event Anne Marie Jones collected over 50 donations and gift certificates from local area merchants for the bag draw. These prizes are numbered and arranged on tables. Guests purchase strips of tickets which they place in numbered bags, which match the numbered prizes.

Anne Marie Jones, who has volunteered for the past three years stated:  “This event started November 2012 during the National Addictions Awareness Week as an alternative social event without alcohol under the title Fiddling and Step Dancing Social. Because it was so successful, and under the request of the regular participants the Garden River Recreation Center has continued hosting a monthly event and renamed it, Live! Country Classic Sundays, without having a real budget to do so. I continue as a true volunteer to help coordinate and work at the monthly events. The majority of our participants are elders and fellow music lovers from the Sault, Echo Bay, Rankin, Sault Tribe (Sault, MI), Pickford, MI and of course, Garden River. We provide snacks, a lunch and beverages for them at every event. This event is still held once a month for anyone and everyone that loves the old country classics. We provide the main live entertainment (house band) and encourage our talented participants to join the band for a song or two to showcase local talent. On average, we have had anywhere from 50 to 120 participants come out and enjoy the music and dancing on a monthly basis.”