Members of Jazz Explosion perform during a Jazz At the Lake performance at Sylvan Lake. The Red Deer group performed outdoors at Lions Legacy Park Saturday afternoon. The 15th Annual Jazz at the Lake continues through the weekend with headline concerts by the likes of Jon Faddis, Cheryl Fischer, Jack Semple and Johnny Summers. The event wraps up Sunday evening with a Pubs and Clubs event with performances from 5-8 p.m. happening at four venues. See more online at (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Sylvan Lake jazz festival will not be returning

Annual event cancelled after 20 years

Jazz at the Lake will no longer be run in Sylvan Lake.

On Thursday evening, the team behind the annual jazz music festival announced the event’s cancellation after 20 years.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the Jazz At The Lake Festival will not be returning,” the team said in a statement on the Jazz at the Lake website.

“This festival was able to resurrect the rich musical history of Sylvan Lake with the legendary days of the Varsity Hall and the big band dance halls that operated in this community since (the Second World War).”

Sylvan Lake has a “unique historical claim” to the cultural development of music in Alberta, the statement adds.

“We felt that it deserved to be unearthed and treasured. We have done exactly that for 20 years. The town has been home to some of the country’s best jazz artists.

“Two-time Juno Award winner P.J. Perry, one of the finest saxophonists in the country, hails from Sylvan Lake. The late, great Senator Tommy Banks, a world class jazz musician is also a well-known source of pride to the area. Two of Jazz At The Lake’s founders are internationally recognized jazz musicians and longtime residents of Sylvan Lake.

“Jazz At The Lake has helped to bring to the country’s attention no less than seven artists that have gone on to win or be nominated for Juno’s after being selected to perform at the festival.”

The statement was issued on behalf of Jazz at the Lake artistic director and co-founder Cheryl Fisher, Jazz At The Lake Festival Society Board president and co-founder Eric Allison, co-founder Matt Toonders, co-founder Allan Fisher (in memoriam), treasurer and festival manager Kathy Bradshaw, secretary and assistant festival manager Amanda Fitch, and director Morgan McKee.

“Thank you to all our amazing Jazz At The Lake volunteers, festival attendees, local businesses and generous individuals who have been so instrumental in making this happen over the years,” the statement said.

“Made up of like-minded community spirited individuals from civic, business, and artistic enterprises you saw the need and the unique opportunity to create a music festival that would offer live music in a beautiful setting, and in so doing, positively add to the cultural landscape of central Alberta. Our heartfelt gratitude.”

A special thanks was also directed towards the Sylvan Lake Heart of Town BRZ organization, which was the original and ongoing support organization for JATL, and its contribution to the town’s new stage.

“In future, we hope it will be made available to the non-profit organizations, at a price they can afford, that strive to make Sylvan Lake a more culturally diverse community. We would like to also thank the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for their years of continuous support. Thank you to the Town of Sylvan Lake.”

The festival just celebrated its 20th anniversary this past summer, after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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