The Back Forty Festival is 25 years young and still going strong. It takes place in Morden Park at the beginning of June each year.

'At one of the workshops the leader told us we didn't have to be a great guitarist or a great singer but if we could write good songs, people would listen'- Donovan Giesbrecht

Donovan Giesbrecht calls it "the festival to start all festivals". He grew up going to the Back Forty, along with other members of his band The Other Brothers.

Giesbrecht remembers attending a songwriter's workshop when he was 16.

"It was the first time I had written and performed a song for others," he recalled. "My grandmother had just died and I wrote this tear-jerker. I shared it and I realized this is what I wanted to do."

Giesbrecht says he can thank the folks at the Back 40 festival for giving him the opportunity. 

"Up until that point I had been trying to figure out Bruce Cockburn songs," he admitted. "It was a lot about the guitar and singing songs. Then at one of the workshops the leader told us we didn't have to be a great guitarist or a great singer but if we could write good songs, people would listen."

Co-founder of the festival Linda Hiebert knows how valuable the songwriter workshops are. She says what stands out for her personally is witnessing the success of all the local singer-songwriters. 

"We have a special feature this year called Two Generations of Songwriters,"she explained.  "It will include lots of those  local singers who have all grown up with the festival. They played the coffee houses and the tweener stage. Every year we find more young people who have an interest in playing music."

Don't miss SCENE with host Bruce Ladan on May 31. The show airs every Saturday from 5 - 6 p.m. on CBC Radio One, 89.3 FM/990 AM/97.9 FM in Brandon. The Back Forty Festival starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday June 1, in the Morden Bowl.