As the first recipient of the St. John’s Folk Arts Council Lifetime Achievement Award, Ruth Matthews is recognized for her devotion to keeping alive the music and dance traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador. She was instrumental in starting the well-known Penney Folk Dancers and has been the Festival Organizer for the Burin Peninsula Festival of Song and Dance since its inception in 1984. Few people have done more than Ruth has towards maintaining our rich cultural heritage and we are honoured to present this tribute in gratitude for her work and dedication.
Ruth Matthews organized the Penney Folk Dancers in 1981. Sponsored by the B.F.A.C., this group is preserving the traditional dances and the old set-dances done in schools and church halls of the outports. With 32 dancers, ranging in age from nine to twenty-plus, this group is one of the star attractions at folk festivals in Newfoundland, the Maritimes and Quebec. Their repertoire includes: The Traditional Square Set; The Lancers; Kitty’s Rambles; Six-handed Reel; Eight-handed Reel; Running The Goat, and many more. Accordion player Edward Corcoran of Mortier has been with the group since its formation.