Thirteenth Annual

Princeton Traditional Music Festival

Friday 16 to Sunday 18 August ~ 2020

Rika Rubsaat and Jon Bartlett

The Princeton Traditional Music Society was founded by Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat who have a life long commitment to this music. They are singers of traditional song and scholars of ballads, shanties, and other folk songs. The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, and its success, is a testimony to their passion and hard work.

Those who have come to visit, sing, play, and share their culture at Jon and Rika's home come from far and wide and many are core to the Traditional Music scene. Over a period of forty years these people have attracted more like minded artists and the Princeton Traditional Music Festival is the culmination of this process. It is truly a treasure of musical culture in Canada.

The Festival was started in 2008 and has shown value as both a driver for tourism and as an asset to community development. Many people also enjoy an involvement as volunteers and this contributes to the social gains as well as helping to make the Festival a success.

The Music

The focus of the music is oral tradition and history. Although the word "traditional", when associated with music, is generally used to describe the musical traditions of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Manx, and Breton cultures, the concept can easily be expanded to include music which centres on the poetry of the human condition. Indeed, in this day and age, it is difficult to not do so. Traditional music then, is an art form which speaks to our history and teaches us something about ourselves.

This music originates from the very people whose lives it chronicles. It is not only an expression of life on the sea, in work camps, mines, and factories, but it also speaks of childhood and family life. This is not the music of concert halls, but rather that of the streets, pubs, picket lines, weddings, funerals, and family kitchens. In short, this is music that belongs everywhere, and to everyone.

In defining this art form it is impossible to ignore the non-verbal expressions which are closely related, inspired by, or directly associated with it. One cannot dissociate dance from the music. In the same vein, where there are musicians there will always be an instrumental narrative, even just for the simple joy of playing. Often too, these non-verbal expressions are inspired by the same environment or events which gave birth to the purely oral traditions. In the end, this art is all about the human condition and tells the story of our cultures and where we came from.

The Story of Men Folk Singing

In 1994, Calgary singer Barry Luft decided to have a male chorus sing with him on a recording of “What’s the Life of a Man?”. The group was made up of men who had been significant in Barry’s life. Eighty-eight agreed to participate.

"Men Folk Singing reaffirms my belief in the wondrousness of music – how it can change and transform individual lives and social life." Click here to read the whole story. (pdf)

RDOS    Princeton    BC logo

The Festival

Admission is FREE.  Events are held on several stages in the centre of Princeton and begin on Friday evening with a public street dance and an Irish ceili band. Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday there's a potpourri of concerts, workshops, and jams.

The Scene

This event is primarily for and about the performers. Traditional Music lacks venue in the west, so players, singers, dancers, and fans are willing to travel in order to meet up. Professional performers are making personal sacrifices in order to be here, but the many people who come just to listen attests to the unique value of this event. For those new to the Festival please have a look at the Our Story page to learn about how it started and what Traditional Music means to us.


The Place

Nestled among rolling hills of ranchland, the little town of Princeton is the gateway to the Okanagan. About 300 km from Vancouver, it is the first town after Hope along the Crowsnest Highway. Summers are hot and dry - just what we like for our festival which takes place mostly in the streets.


In addition to the sponsors, this festival is primarily supported by hard work and artists who perform for free. However, we aim to pay for artist's meals and at least part of their transportation costs. Please consider contributing in order to help maintain this important cultural event.

Become a Member

You can support the continuing operation of the festival by buying a $10 membership.


Every year we need a stage crew, MCs, office staff, and many other important helpers. If you want to be part of this exciting event in this way, please let us know.


We encourage the sale of food, crafts, art, and more at the Festival. Download the form (.pdf) or (.doc). For more information please contact the Vendor Coordinator.


Funding for the Festival comes from donations, as well as grants from the Town of Princeton, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, the Province of British Columbia.

We thank you all!