At the beginning it seemed like only a dream, but 30 years later it’s Saskatoon’s premier event.
2016 marks 30 years for the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. Mona Chappell was on the founding committee. She says, “At the first meeting we said, ‘Three whole days! Do you really think we can do three whole days?’ We were determined and there were some pretty strong people on the board so we knew we could do it.”
Many of the festival founders point to the festival’s very first artistic director, Jim Hill. “It takes a lot of people to make events like this work, but each one needs a spark,” says reporter and friend Ned Powers. “Jim Hill was that spark.” Powers says Hill had a magic combination, a mind for business and a love of music.
Musician Maurice Drouin has played at the festival nearly all of the 30 years it’s been around. He can hardly believe how it’s grown. “It’s evolved into something where the biggest thing in the city is the festival, it’s fantastic.”
The festival has grown from those three days to a 10-day tradition. Now generations of Saskatonians have grown up with the festival and the music is the marker for summer in the city.
Chappell says being a part of the first jazz festival is something she’ll always cherish. “I’m proud of the fact that we got it going and provided people with an opportunity to hear the best in music.” She says proudly, “It’s still going and we had the right idea when we started!”