Asham Stomperfest

Keeping history alive and well through the fiddle and the Red River Jig

curling have in common? This summer, they all have a part to play at Asham Stomperfest.

The festival, now in its 13th year, is headed by Arnold Asham. Asham’s curling supply company – which bears his name – sponsors a Métis Red River jigging group, the Asham Stompers, who are also the namesake of the festival.

“Our mission is to help recapture and preserve the history of the Métis people through the Red River jig,” Asham says. “Our purpose is to bring hope to the kids, and the Aboriginal communities.”

“(We’re) taking something right out of the community... the fiddle and the (Red River) jig, and we’re trying to take it to the world stage.”

Stomperfest also hosts the World Jigging Championships, which usually feature close to 100 competitors. This year, they’re also bringing in Canada’s Got Talent winners Sagkeeng’s Finest.

“It’s a dance festival as much as anything else,” Asham says.

Throughout the weekend, headlining bands like The Sojourners and Harlequin will keep the party going. Camping for the festival is free, and there is food available on site as well.

While they don’t care to grow the festival to the size of the neighbouring Dauphin’s Countryfest, Asham hopes to bring more people out to discover the beautiful community and the magic of Red River jigging.

“I’ve dedicated my last 15 years to this Red River jig. And bringing it home to the Aboriginal kids,” Asham says. “It’s never too late to find your passion and go for it, ‘cause I probably added 10, 15 years to my life by taking up this jigging.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 27 of The Uniter (June 2, 2016)

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