Folk Fest Rewind

For almost 40 year now the Winnipeg Folk Festival (WFF) has provided Manitobans, as well as many other proximal neighbours, with a quality music event experience. That much certainly hasn’t changed over the years, although the festival has seen its fair share of improvements since its inception in 1974.

This year a total of 336 musicians, 2,950 volunteers, and a total cumulative attendance of 53, 826 entrants converged on Bird’s Hill Park for five days of hot sun and good atmosphere for the 39th annual Winnipeg Folk Fest. According to festival officials there were just shy of 7,000 total campers who came to attend this year’s festivities.

It was also announced mid-festival this year that the WFF had reached a new level in their Staging the Future Capital Campaign with a contribution of $650,000 from the Province of Manitoba and an additional $100,000 from the Winnipeg Foundation (in addition to a previous $100,000 donation). The new influx brings the campaign to a total of $4,264,506 that has been raised in effort to significantly improve the festival site for the future. The goal of the festival campaign is to raise $6 million by December, 2012.

“We are so appreciative of the supporters who have shared in our vision to ensure that the Winnipeg Folk Festival continues to be one of Manitoba’s best summer attractions,” says campaign chair Chris Couture. “We believe in the importance of this event in our community and in our province, and we are grateful to the Winnipeg Foundation and the Province of Manitoba for supporting it.”

Areas of focus for the Staging the Future campaign include improvements to the festival village, entrance and egress infrastructure, new forest stages, in addition to shade, water, and electrical upgrades to be made throughout the festival site. Phase one of the project, which includes a $2.7 million investment in backstage areas, has already been completed.

Aside from news of the festival’s future, many attendants, performers included, were quite pleased with the experience the current Folk Fest afforded them.

“I was blown away by how thoughtfully everyone [ . . . ] was treated,” says Silas Lowe of Texas based Atomic Duo. “Truly one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had.”

Even returning performers such as Wales’ Martyn Joseph continue to be amazed at the communal experience the Winnipeg Folk Fest offers its artists.

“As magnificent and soul feeding as I remembered — only even better,” says Jospeh.

Festival Highs

– Food selection

Mondragon, Kawaii Crepe, and Sukhothai all among a large variety of food venders who set up shop this year. Great selection.  

– Great mobile integration

This year WFF offered both an iPhone and iPad app for attendants to want a sleeker, more efficient way to navigate the festival offerings. Nice touch.

– Friendly, courteous staff

As is usually the case, the throngs of volunteer and paid staff at the festival were both friendly and helpful. 

– Variety

By far the greatest strength of the WFF, the sheer variety of entertainment is staggering. Something for everyone.

Festival Lows

– Limited pathway access

A casualty of the site renovations, this year festival-goers were denied access to the pathway stretching from the Snowberry Field stage and the Northern Lights main stage. Overall less shade, more sun, more crowds.

– Inconsistent Wi-Fi

Normally not something any festival attendee would complain about but the WFF did make a point to advertise free Wi-Fi and it was a service that proved quite difficult to pin down.