Rainbow Trout Music Festival and Fishing Derby

By Stefan Braun

Two weeks before the start of Rainbow Trout Music Festival and Fishing Derby, backcountry roads across Manitoba were being shut down due to raging wildfires and tinder dry conditions. A barrier blocked the road approaching Reynolds Ponds, home to Trout for the last two years – threatening serious fines to anyone who trespassed – thus leaving Trout without a location. Not ready to lose hope, Ben Jones and friend Peter Scott took to the open roads around rural Manitoba, passing town after town, talking to locals looking for secret swimming holes and fishing ponds, hoping to find a spot to host the third and biggest Rainbow Trout ever.
While driving through Teulon, MB, they caught wind of a town called Inwood. Inwood is a tiny town consisting of a gas station and a restaurant, home to the finest reuben in Manitoba, with a large abandoned quarry on the outskirts. The spot was perfect with a beautiful empty quarry, diving cliffs and plenty of room for the potential 400 to 500 festivalgoers to set up and enjoy the weekend. The only problem was that the town sat 2 km away down a gravel road. Unfortunately, time was short and there were no other options.
The organizers decided to go ahead and set up shop. A scout was left behind for the night to survey the action in the area. With very little traffic and nothing but positive support from the locals, they began the lengthy two day process of setting up the stage, audience shelter, first aid tent and vendor booths.  It seemed things were finally looking up for the ill-fated Trout team. The volunteers had arrived, the stage was prepped and the first band was set to play in five hours. Spirits were high until the RCMP showed up.
“We knew exactly what was going to happen as soon as they drove up,” said organizer Ben Jones. Having obtained no permits from the municipality, the weeks of scouring the country side and two days of set-up were halted with a single cease and desist order. Rainbow Trout was forced to cancel the festival and start looking into the future.
Rainbow Trout Music Festival and Fishing Derby was formed by a group of friends around a campfire in the summer of  2009. It quickly grew from a local fishing hole stocked with trout to become one of Manitoba’s greatest independent music festivals.
“We were never certain where it was going, it was just so much fun,” says Jones. Although not without its setbacks, such as the untimely run in with the RCMP that brought the festival to a shrieking halt this past year, Trout looks towards its fourth year with optimism and a whole new game plan. Rising from the ashes of the scorched Manitoba prairies, Rainbow Trout is taking steps to full maturity.
With the help of a small business education program, SEED Winnipeg, Trout is well on its way to becoming a functioning non-profit cooperative. This includes renting or purchasing a piece of land with all the required permits and the possibility of creating a small town partnership, similar to the relationship between the Harvest Moon Society and Clearwater, MB. Although Trout may be emerging from out of the underground and growing in size, the goal is, and always will be, focused on creating a space where bands from all genres, age groups and social scenes can blend together and celebrate the eclectic music this city is capable of.
If you’re looking for some Trout fun in the long wait until next summer take heart, plans have already been made. Seven events are already set to take place over the course of the year. These events include the Rainbow Trout Fundraiser silent bachelor and bachelorette auction taking place Friday, December 16th at the Lo Pub. Other events include the third annual Trout pop caroling taking place throughout Wolseley.
Be sure to get your hands on a Rainbow Trout Best Friends card to get stamped at every event. Five stamps get you a free Trout t-shirt. Even better, a stamped Best Friends card showing attendance at all events, and one Big Fun Festival event, rewards you with free entry into next year’s festival.
Rainbow Trout has grown from a backwoods camping trip into a staple in the Winnipeg music scene. Trout plays host to a weekend extravaganza with all of your present and new best friends. This is a festival steeped in home grown passion, thriving off of the creative spirit in this town that any Winnipeger should be proud of.

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