Pratie Oaten Irish Festival
The potatoes are dug and it’s time to boil up a pot of “lumpers” to make a batch of everyone’s favourite “Pratie Oaten”: Irish potato oatcakes!
On September 30, come to Moreston Heritage Village at Grey Roots to take part in the Pratie Oaten Irish Festival! The village will be full of delicious food, costumed interpreters, live music, and entertainment. Enjoy music and storytelling, a cross cut saw competition, and make sure to check out the 4H Club Potato Auction taking place at 1:30 p.m! Samples of Pratie Oaten will be available throughout the day in the Log Cabin.
Don’t miss this fun tribute to the early Irish settlers in Grey County!
Regular admission rates apply. Free for Grey Roots Members.
It's easy to halve the potato where there's love.
Click each name to expand and learn more about these talented musicians & storytellers!
Jim McGee was born in Mount Forest, Ontario and he grew up on a farm near Kenilworth. Jim’s brother, Dan and his dad, Joe, gave him a fiddle for the Christmas of 1974. Dan said, “I’ll give you ‘til you’re 40 to learn how to play this thing.” Not long after that, Jim heard a recording of Kevin Burke and soon found himself drawn to playing Irish traditional dance music. Recordings, tapes and especially musicians from Ireland Jim played with over the years in Toronto have influenced his music. The fiddle and flute music of the Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon region of western Ireland has had a strong attraction for him. Jim played with the band Tip Splinter in the ‘80s and with The Inish Owen Ceili Band for the next 20 years or so. Jim and his wife Helen live in Scarborough. Their six children are grown; Jim and Helen have three grandchildren.
Anne McGee was born in Scarborough, second youngest of six children of Jim and Helen McGee. Anne grew up in a house where Irish traditional music was often heard. Anne picked up a B/C Honer “black dot” accordion someone had left at their house and by the time she was ten she had a few tunes figured out on that. Anne remembers a family trip to Cape Breton in the summer of 2000 and a particular Otis Thomas tune, “Bell’s Waltz” as having a positive influence on her decision to play. In recent years, Anne has acquired a Frank Edgely concertina which she loves to play. Music played at home with her dad, Jim, her brother Pat and her sister Kate has had a formative influence. Family gatherings at the Goderich Festival over the years also allowed her to meet and play with Irish musicians. Anne plays occasionally at sessions in Toronto at the Dora Keogh Pub and at the Ceili Cottage Pub. Anne and her dad and her sister Kate play a few ceili dances in Toronto as well.
Dan McGee has played traditional music for dancers throughout Grey-Bruce and beyond for 25 years, and is also a founding member of both The Glenelg Full Moon Country Dance Band and Scatter the Cats.
For more than 25 years, members of Scatter the Cats have been making primarily traditional dance music together, at barn and town and church hall dances, folk festivals, pubs, parties, plowing matches, weddings, picnics, campouts and other community celebrations.
Regional favourites at Summerfolk, Pratie Oaten, Goderich Celtic Roots and the Owen Sound Celtic Festival, the band’s music is an eclectic mix of traditional and original dance tunes, influenced by Irish, Appalachian, old-time Canadian and Scottish fiddle repertoire, with original, traditional and contemporary songs, and a few tall tales.
Fiddler Will Henry, Dan McGee, flute, clawhammer banjo, Bob Robins, banjo and guitar, and Frank Francalanza, mandolin, banjo, percussion, are all former members of the long-lived Grey-Bruce music collective Glenelg Full Moon Country Dance Band.
This acoustic quintet likes nothing better than jumping into the groove and winding up a big blast of tunes and songs for both dancers and listeners.
For this year’s Pratie Oaten festival, the Cats will be joined in session by the popular and influential local singer and songwriter Tara MacKenzie.
Tara Mackenzie is known for her blues singing and compositions with the Trevor MacKenzie Band and the MacKenzie Blues Band, as well as for her vocal instruction and choral leadership in the Grey-Bruce community. For Pratie Oaten this year, MacKenzie will focus on her background in traditional Irish song and original compositions inspired by that tradition.
Rob Rolfe is the author of five books of poetry, including Hart Rouge (The Ginger Press, 2017), Hard Times (Aeolus House, 2015) and Beyond Mudtown (Quattro Books, 2013). Rob and singer-songwriter Larry Jensen served as Owen Sound Poets Laureate for 2015-2017, and released a CD recording, Mudtown Songs and Poetry. Born in London, Ontario, he was a union leader and librarian in Toronto for many years. Rob lives in Owen Sound.
Larry Jensen, a lifelong resident of Owen Sound, has released 16 albums over the years featuring all original songs. In October 2009, Larry was awarded the very first “Owen Sound Cultural Award” given in recognition of his long standing musical contributions to his home community. In 2010, 22 artists compiled the CD “Demons and Saints” featuring 19 of Jensen’s original songs. Over the years, Larry has written for theatre, film scores and commercials and authored a book of song lyrics. He continues to produce CD’s of original work. In 2015, Larry was chosen Owen Sound Poets Laureate 2015 – 2017.
The Fiddlefern Country Dancers have hosted monthly contradances at St. George’s Church Hall in Owen Sound for almost 25 years. As part of an outreach program, the dance community several years ago launched a weekly music session to encourage musicians interested in playing dance music. Soon, a new group of dance callers was added. Together, these musicians and callers have hosted social dancing at Pratie Oaten for the past three festivals.
Bruce Carmody is a former president of The Storytellers School of Toronto (now Storytelling Toronto) and a member of Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada. As a storyteller, Bruce tells in both English and French in schools and churches across the province. Bruce enjoys telling a variety of styles of stories from first person, historical narratives, Biblical stories and modern tales, but his favourites are the folktales that have endured through the centuries. Most recently, Bruce has developed a series of stories related to the early days of flight in Canada.
Schedule of Performances
The Barn stage:
11:30 a.m. Scatter the Cats in Session with guest singer / songwriter Tara MacKenzie, and more. Traditional and new tunes and songs.
1:15 p.m. Rob Rolfe and Larry Jensen, songs and stories of Grey County
2:15 p.m. McGee family - Jim, Anne and Dan. Traditional Irish music.
Acoustic story area:
2:45 - 3:15 - Rob Rolfe and Larry Jensen
1:15 p.m. Fiddlefern Country Dancers invite everyone to dance to traditional Irish and Ontario tunes. No experience required.
3 p.m. Open farewell acoustic tune session for all musicians.
The Log Home Porch: Acoustic Traditional Music
1:00 p.m. Jim and Anne McGee, fiddle, concertina, accordion
1:30 p.m. Dan McGee, flute, whistle and banjo
2:00 p.m. Bob Robins and Frank Francalanza, fretted instruments and percussion
2:30 p.m. Lynda and Will Henry, fiddle and concertina
Pioneer Blacksmith Shop:
Stories at 11:45 - 12:15, 12:30 - 1:00. 1:30 - 2:00, 2:15 - 2:45, 3:15 - 3:30