The first Festival was held over three days in April 1948, just before the great flood in Chilliwack.  Gordon Mitchell, Howard Denike, Jim Murray and Jack Walton were Chilliwack Lions Club members and were the founders of the Festival.  It was named the Upper Fraser Valley Festival and later changed to the Upper Fraser Valley Music Festival.  Two of the founders were avid musicians, Gordon on a performance level, and Howard was a local teacher, who until his death was also an adjudicator for several festivals including ours. Back in 1948, we had 13 trophies of which six are still awarded.  There were 200 entries and one adjudicator for all the disciplines: piano, voice, elocution, violin, electric guitar, wind quartet, band and Sunday School Choirs.  Both folk and classical ballet were also included for the first three years.  They were discontinued due to hair-pulling on stage!!

The Festival took place at several venues around town until its prime location was moved to the Chilliwack Arts Centre in 1996 and remained there till 2010.  In 2011, the Festival changed locations to the new Chilliwack Cultural Centre which was completed in September 2010.

At a Chilliwack Lions Club meeting in 1990, there was a motion to dissolve the Music Festival.  Jonesie Jones pleaded its case stating that in his many years as a Lion he didn’t know of any other Lions project to be the same age as that Lions Club.  He took over as Chairperson in 1995.  During his years as chair the name of the festival was changed to the Chilliwack Lions Club Music & Dance Festival.

Several secretaries donated many, many years to the Festival, the most prominent being Audrey Grimmett and Jean Tunbridge.  Jean held the festival together, and as one source said – she ran it like a sergeant major. Jean’s health was failing in 1997 – and although she wanted to be around for our 50th Anniversary – she unfortunately passed away in January 1998, just two months before the big 50. Vicki, Jean’s daughter, who had been her assistant for a few years, stepped in to take her place. Since 1999, Laurie Hirschman has been the Registrar and is looking forward to retiring in the very, very near future.

By 1999 the Festival had expanded to cover 16 days in late February and early March culminating in a Final Honours Concert.  At that time there were 15 different adjudicators and over 120 trophies.  Trophies were given for various reasons: 9 in memory of music teachers, 55 by local businesses both past and present, 20 from different clubs and associations, 4 from original committee members, and 25 in memory of various citizens.

Donna left after one year but Bonnie continued as Dance Co-ordinator, and remained until 2010. During those twelve years, Bonnie expanded the dance division from a small local dance festival into one that is attended by dancers from all over the lower mainland.

In 2022, the Chilliwack Lions Club withdrew after 75 years and the Festival has now taken on the name of Chilliwack Music and Dance Festival for the 76th Annual Festival.


Lion Bonnie Mason, 2001-08

Lion Monica Gibson-Puglsey, 2009-10   

Lion Madelene Lange, 2011-12; Co-Chair with Lion Neill Rickaby in 2013    

Lion Neill Rickaby Co-Chair with Colleen Adie in 2014    

Lion Madelene Lange, 2015-16

Lion Jim Martindale and Lion Val Martindale, 2017

Lion Neill Rickaby with Laurie Hirschman in 2018

Lion Lesley Ward, 2019, 2022-2023

Lion Verlene Clegg and Lesley Ward are currently our Co-Chairs, 2020-21                                    

We want to thank all the committee members and hundreds of volunteers over the years for their dedication and hard work in keeping the Festival in existence. We wouldn’t be here today, if it wasn’t for you.