History of the Festival

History of the Oshawa-Whitby Kiwanis Music Festival

The Oshawa-Whitby Kiwanis Music Festival, a non-profit incorporated charitable organization, has been operating in the Durham region for more than 50 years. The primary objective of our organization is to allow any youth in the Durham and surrounding regions the opportunity to perform and display their musical or speech talents in front of a professional adjudicator. The adjudication process contributes to this process by providing the student and the teacher with an appraisal of the participants' performance. The emphasis of the adjudication is aimed at encouraging the individual to develop their ability to its fullest.

The Music Festival was first incorporated in February 28, 1972 as the Oshawa Kiwanis Music Festival. Originally organized by the Kiwanis Club of Oshawa and the Westmount Kiwanis Club, the Festival Board of Directors and mandate was expanded to accommodate demand as this grew to include the Sydenham Kiwanis Club of Oshawa and the Durham A.M. Kiwanis Club. In 1988 our Festival grew again to incorporate the Kiwanis Club of Whitby when the Festival took on a new name and structure from the enlarged sponsorship. In 1991 the Oshawa-Whitby Kiwanis Music Festival had another name change to incorporate the fact that we now offer adjudication for one act plays, hence another new name, The Oshawa-Whitby Kiwanis Music & Theatre Festival. One Act plays were dropped in 1997 due to lack of participation. In 2009, Theatre was dropped from the title. "Kifest" is also a registered trade mark of the Festival.

The Music Festival has grown over the years of its existence from over 500 entries in the first year to over 1700 entries in recent years with approximately 6000 participants.

The Oshawa-Whitby Kiwanis Music Festival offers the participants adjudication in the following classes: Choral, Vocal, String, Bands and Instrumental, Piano, Guitar and Speech Arts. Participants are permitted to perform in solo as well as duet and ensemble classes. The Festival receives entries from the Durham area as well as from places such as Toronto, Cobourg, Sunderland and others. The largest number of entries are in the piano classes. Many schools in the area also enter their bands, choirs, instrumentalists and Speech Arts groups.

The Festival sessions are held in various locations throughout the cities of Oshawa and Whitby. local churches, libraries and other public buildings which include schools, act as the stages and auditoriums for our performances. The Music Festival organization itself has not, and does not anticipate establishing a permanent rented facility or office for its use exclusively. Being a non-profit organization established by the Kiwanis Clubs of Oshawa and Whitby, we as an organization rely to a great extent on the facilities and the generosity of our club members to provide us with board rooms free of charge, limited photocopying etc.

The Music Festival and its Board of Directors is organized and manned by representatives from the sponsoring Oshawa Kiwanis Club and volunteers to the board. Chairmen are assigned to the different committees with responsibility of ensuring smooth operation of the Festival.

The Festival is manned entirely by volunteers from the Kiwanis Clubs and the community at large. There have been over 300 volunteers working at the various halls and behind the scenes. There is one paid employee at the present time.

Our sponsorship comes not only from the Oshawa Kiwanis Club but also from the community by way of private and business donations to the Festival in the way of corporate sponsorships, patronage and scholarships.