The fifth season of Whoop and Hollar Festival's Open Mic and Jam night is officially underway. Ten local acts showcased their talent to a packed house with performer Valerie Hobson calling it an exciting experience and opportunity to share her love of music with the crowd. Hobson says she's wanted to be a singer since age five inspired by artists like Elvis Presley and Tina Turner. She plans to return to future open mic nights to perform and extends her thanks to the audience for their support. 

Southport Resident and musician Justin Fry says he's been performing at the event for several years describing the environment as safe, inclusive and an opportunity for artists to connect. Fry says the jam night draws a diverse group with music genres trending toward folk, bluegrass and indie. He points out comedy, drama and poetry performances are also welcome. 

Fred Acoby played several original songs and says he's grateful for the opportunity to perform and promote himself as an independent artist. He's been working with a producer and is looking forward to an official song and music video release this year. 

 "I'm just writing music and hoping to get my stuff out there. Once the video is produced, we're going to be doing a viewing here in Portage and hopefully be able to make an announcement of when that's happening soon." 

 Dag Aymont from Badlands Productions Inc. managed the sound system for the evening. He says he loves the opportunity to help people perform.

 "It's nice to see people get up, do something they love and feel the support for it. Especially people who might not otherwise have that chance to get up on stage and perform with a band. I am very happy they've asked me to partner with them and help make this thing happen every year."

Artistic Director Josh Wright extends his thanks to the event partners and all those who attended. 

"The Whoop & Hollar Team was thoroughly impressed with the event in terms of the performances, a full house attendance, and strong community support from our partners and sponsor. The Legion, Badlands Promotions, Sawmill Catering, and Visions of Independence work tirelessly with the festival to make the Open Mic & Jam Night a success, while Ian's Hardware helped sponsor the event series, allowing it to remain free to the public.". He also acknowledges some special milestones for the event, "We are proud to share this is the event series' fifth season. Also, 2024 marks Whoop & Hollar Folk Festival's 10th anniversary of celebrating local music, art, nature, and community in Portage la Prairie, operating on a 100% volunteer-driven, non-profit basis."

The next Open Mic and Jam Night is on February 23rd at the Cedar Lounge. 


Photo Credit: Jani Witoski