The Indian River Festival started as many good ideas do: with a rag tag group of volunteers, a hope, and a prayer. Growing from a grassroots organization to national phenomenon, IRF has never stopped appreciating, and relying on, its hardworking network of volunteer support. Heather Carver is one of those volunteers who has been giving her time and energy to IRF for nearly twenty years. We couldn’t have done it without her—and today, we’re relaying the story of her favourite IRF memory.
I worked with Mary Crane, who was instrumental in the creation of the Indian River Festival. She approached me about volunteering at IRF that was over 20 years ago and I have never regretted that decision to become involved. I love the Festival and am passionate about what it offers the Island community and visitors alike. The architecture is spectacular and the acoustics exceptional, making it an ideal venue to perform and experience live music. I have met so many wonderful people over the years and enjoyed so many wonderful musicians. Volunteering has also allowed me to discover new music, new sounds that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t giving my time.
One of my fondest memories happened in August of 2018. The Ennis Sisters from Newfoundland were performing at Indian River Festival that year. A former student of mine, Tammy Laughlin, who owns and operates Another Way Learning and Social Center contacted me to tell me that she would be bringing seven of her members to the concert and eight others who would accompany the group. She told me that she often used the music of The Ennis Sisters to increase connection amongst the group and lift their moods. She regularly organized outings in the community and she felt this would be extra special as the group loved the music of The Ennis Sisters. Don Quarles, the Executive Director at the time contacted The Ennis Sisters to see if they would agree to meet with the group after the show. They agreed.
The group sat right up front and enjoyed the songs they knew so well. Maureen, Karen and Teresa (The Ennis Sisters) had pictures taken with many in the group and signed autographs following the show. Tammy told me about Darcy, one of the members who had a ticket and felt he couldn’t attend that night because of his fear of crowds. It was a sold out performance. He had made a video instead. Tammy told me she had the video on her phone but was hesitant to bother the Sisters after they were so kind with all those members present. I encouraged Tammy to share the video and what the Sisters did next brought tears to my eyes. They made their own personalized video to send to Darcy, letting him experience a bit of magic from that night.
The Ennis Sisters are remarkable people. What they did that night demonstrated their character, understanding and appreciation of all fans. Maureen, Karen and Teresa affirmed and validated each of the members from Another Way. They left so excited and said that they would never forget that night at Indian River Festival with the Ennis Sisters. Indian River Festival is all about the joy of making a difference. This is just one example where music at Indian River has touched the lives of those who get to experience it in this special place.
Thank you Heather for your decades of time, support, and love. We couldn’t be creating these magical memories without you.
Written by: Dani MacDonald