Still free, still fun |

Still free, still fun

Steve Baker
Special to Prospector
Young fiddlers practice at a KVMR Celtic Festival Youth Arts Program workshop.
Submitted photo

Know & Go

WHO: Celtic Festival Youth Arts Program

WHAT: Free workshops for youth ages 10-18 in fencing, storytelling, magic, building tunes, singing, harp, step dancing and art.

WHEN: 4-7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 27

WHERE: Ponderosa Hall & Oak Grove Stage, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley.

COST: Free, but pre-registration is recommended although walk-ups are welcome. Participants are eligible for a $5 Celtic Festival day pass.

INFO: or click on Youth Arts Program at top of festival homepage, call 530-265-9073, or email

Usually, there’s a price tag attached to something like this, even if it is for kids (in this case, ages 10-18).

But not KVMR’s annual Celtic Festival Youth Art Program and its flock of free classes and workshops, coming up late afternoon 4-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, just preceding the opening of the 23rd Festival itself.

“Sure, they’re still free, but still free with fun included and a great learning experience, too,” notes KVMR 89.5 FM volunteer broadcaster and Youth Art Program coordinator Laurie DesJardin. “And every year we’ve expanded it a little, too.”

This year, the program has added Introduction To Fencing and Storytelling.

The fencing workshop is the real deal with the Diamond Rose Academie D’Armes, a historical fencing school teaching the use of the rapier and small sword of the late 17th century.

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“You’ll learn the basics of fencing techniques,” according to DesJardin. “It’ll emphasize timing, balance, defense and coordination of mind and body.”

And storyteller Tom Wade will share his insights on the art of storytelling and how to develop an Irish “gift of gab,”


“He’ll entrance you with his tales full of blarney and malarkey in this fun interactive workshop,” adds Laurie.

And magician Merloch Silvermaine is back to teach two beginner classes and one advanced session.

“Sometimes kids can be shy, but Merloch is really inspired,” DesJardin explains. “He’s not doing a show, he’s teaching and reaching kids. Merloch teaches a couple fully scripted magic card routines that include comedic elements, yet he focuses on the experience of magic.”

Meanwhile, Lisa Stine and Sage Po return with Beginning Harp.

“Lisa loves turning people onto the music of the harp,” says Laurie. “And Sage is a harpist and music teacher who grew up going to the Celtic Festival.”

For the second consecutive year, Galen Fraser — a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston — holds a “Build The Tune” workshop where you learn a tune and, yup, build a tune with the son of world class fiddler Alasdair Fraser and multi-talented vocalist Sally Ashcraft.


This year’s Singing Workshop features SierraCapella and leader Heather Grove.

“They’re a harmonious blend of songfest and choir,” DesJardin says. “This’ll be a rousing workshop singing both traditional and contemporary Celtic songs.”

Once again, Christine Nys will be offering a pair of Celtic Art classes. This year she’s asking participants to create items like bookmarks, medallions, masks and other articles with the theme of Celtic Animals & Beasts.

And what would a Celtic Youth Arts Program be without Irish Step Dancing? Nicole McKeever of the McKeever School of Irish Dance of Sacramento returns to teach the class.

“Nicole knows her stuff and toured the world with companies like Riverdance,” according to Laurie. “She finds your skills and builds on them.”

Main stage performers this year, The Moxie Strings are scheduled to do a workshop at the Nevada City School of the Arts the day before the Youth Arts Festival, and the Arts school students will appear on the main stage with them on Sunday.

Additional advanced youth players from the community get a chance to join that performance by taking the Learn Advanced Time workshop with Moxie Strings’ Diane Ladio.


Ladio and Allison Lynn (The Moxie Strings) close the workshop with an Interactive Concert.

“They’ll offer lIsteners the unique opportunity to experience some of the world’s best known instruments through a young, progressive lens,” DesJardin said.

It’s smart to pre-register for the workshops and classes that youth arts goers want to take. There is a cap on the number of participants for some classes, and DesJardin said fencing has been getting a lot of attention.

You can register online at and click on Youth Arts Program.

“Participants also are eligible for a Celtic Festival day pass for just $5, which is a real savings,” DesJardin added.

Oh, and the Youth Arts Program is, um, free and fun, Laurie would like to remind you.

On The Air is a weekly irreverent look at Nevada City’s volunteer-driven, eclectic community radio station at 89.5 FM and streaming at Complete KVMR schedule available at the station’s website, The station now features a second stream with indie pop and millenial tastes at and a second local signal at The Bridge 105.7 FM with National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and Pacifica’s Democracy Now weekday mornings 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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