Country music gypsies travel for the love of the music

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County Music gypsies travel with their trailers, 5th wheels and RVs to create a village when they arrive at a festival site. 

Allyson Beauregard and Lynne Lavery

MRC PONTIAC &
PONTIAC – In days gone by gypsies would travel in caravans setting up camp once they reached their


County Music gypsies travel with their trailers, 5th wheels and RVs to create a village when they arrive at a festival site. 

Allyson Beauregard and Lynne Lavery

MRC PONTIAC &
PONTIAC – In days gone by gypsies would travel in caravans setting up camp once they reached their
destination. Today, there’s another type of “gypsy” plying the highways with much bigger rigs; these
travelers love Old Time Country Music, and take their pleasure seriously enough to travel with their trailers, 5th-wheels, and RVs, from festival to festival during the summer season.  
Some of the local festivals that attract these music lovers include the Quyon Jam Fest, the Shawville Lions’ Country Jamboree, Oktoberfest, and of course, the Shawville Fair.   “We’ve attracted about 300 trailers per year for the last three years,” Jim Hodgins, the original organizer of the Jamboree, told the Journal. “This has grown from the 100 we had for the first
jamboree.” He and his wife, Bonnie, started the festival in 2006 and passed it to the Lions Club in 2014.
Groups of festival goers will often travel together and camp together just like the gypsies of old. 
They move from site to site, creating a temporary village at each one. “The groups range from three to four trailers, with a dozen in some. Some travel 250 km or more,” added Hodgins.
“They want to be with their friends; they travel for the music but also for the comradery. At the Jamboree we had a group of twelve trailers from the Bay of Quinte and another from North Gower, called the North Gower Group.” The majority of these new gypsies are retired seniors.
Lorraine and Basil Hodgins, from Shawville, love to travel, following the music.  According to Lorraine, “The set-up is easy. We get a registration letter sometime in February and once you send in your money your spot is set; at the Jamboree we’ve had the same spot for the past 9 years!” They started their Country Music gypsying at the Gatineau Clog, in 1983, and have attended festivals in Peterborough, Kingston and also along the Seaway. This year they’ve gone to Quyon, Shawville and the Bluegrass Festival in Renfrew; they’ll be back in Quyon for Community Days and are looking forward to Oktoberfest in Ladysmith.   
For a weekend, these gypsies often arrive on Wednesday, taking two days to settle in before the music starts on Friday. “We visit with our friends; some have come from Campbellford, Pakenham, Almonte, Arnprior. We play games, share meals and happy hour; someone will have a guitar and almost everyone knows the music so we can sing-along. We only see some of these people at the festivals so it’s a real party atmosphere, a true community of friends,” said Lorraine.
Gypsies have to be self-sufficient. There will be drinking water on site, but the
trailers have propane stoves and fridges,
50 gallon water tanks, and holding
tanks for waste.  Most have generators,
but, “Campers are considerate,” noted Lorraine. “They will only run them at meals and the new generators, even though they are large, aren’t very noisy at all.”
Being a Country Music Gypsy is not an expensive lifestyle, either. “If you camp at a regular campground it can cost at least $40 per night,” said Lorraine. “At the Jamboree, people came in the Sunday before, paid $100, and were able to stay all week. And, these are visitors who will go into town to buy their groceries and propane. It’s so good for the town;
they’ll shop in our stores and eat in our
restaurants. They aren’t afraid to spend their money,” she added.
But, what it all comes back to is the music. Old Time Country is what these gypsies are after; they may tolerate some of the newer Country styles but what they want is music from days gone by that is good for dancing. There’s often an open mic session on one of the first evenings, from 7 – 11 pm, and there’s lots of local
 talent to fill the spots; each participant is allowed two songs. The professionals come later in the weekend, and news about the next festival is freely distributed and
promoted to keep the gypsies on the road. 
“We’ve been camping for over 45 years, but this is what we’ve been doing for the past 10-15. It’s a great way of life, a great retirement,” concluded Lorraine.