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Memory Lane: Sing your praises and toot your horn, share your memories of the Kiwanis Music Festival would love to hear about your memories of the Kiwanis Music Festival and inspiring music teachers for its Memory Lane feature

The Kiwanis Music Festival of Sudbury is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Actually, the diamond anniversary was last year, but the 2020 festival was cancelled at the last minute at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

In 2021, the "show" will go on. The 2021 festival will be a virtual event. Music students will record their performances and upload them on YouTube. They will be adjudicated by judges during a Zoom conference.

The festival will run from March 29 to 31 and from April 6 to 9. Registration closed Feb. 14 and the deadline for video submissions is March 22.

Generations of Sudburians have memories of their performances at the festivals, which were often their first opportunities to perform in front of an audience and compete for scholarships.

Kiwanis festivals are held in many Canadian communities, an event as important for budding musicians as minor hockey playoffs are for young players. 

Many who made their debut at the festival are now professional artists and have played with the Sudbury Youth Orchestra and the Sudbury Symphony.

The Inco Triangle reported on the festival from the 1940s to the 1990s. Those reports can be accessed by entering "Inco Triangle Kiwanis Festival" in the Google search engine.

My own search led to finding the March 1955 issue that reported there were 6,000 festival entries that year. On the cover of The Triangle is a picture of Mildred Istona, a young violinist who won the $250 Inco scholarship. Istona would grow up and leave Sudbury to become a major influence in Canadian women's lives as editor of Chatelaine magazine from 1977 to 1995. would love to hear about your memories of the Kiwanis Music Festival and inspiring music teachers for its Memory Lane feature that will be published March 16. Sing your praises. Blow your horn. Were you shy or over confident? Was your performance the beginning or end of your musical career?

Send memories and photos to or make comments below. Memories can also be sent to

In normal times, some 800 students participate in various categories. Response to the 2021 virtual festival has been very good, says Katherine Smith, who has taken over as festival co-ordinator from Heather Parker this year. 

In 2010 the Kiwanis Club of Sudbury was awarded the Hall of Fame Northern Life Community Builders Award in part because of their efforts to organize the spring music festival.

The festival depends on dozens of hard-working volunteers and funding provided by Delta Bingo and Charitable Gaming Association Gaming of Sudbury, which covers approximately 30 per cent of the operating costs.

This year the festival is stretching its budget to make up for lost funds from program advertising sales and revenue from the Stars of Excellence concert.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer. She is a member of the Kiwanis Music Festival of Sudbury board. Memory Lane is made possible by our Community Leaders Program