Big Rock Field Reporters - Best of the Fests

Posted by on 16 September 2009

Over this past summer we traveled to five folk festivals across Canada. As you can imagine we noticed each festival had at least one aspect that really shone over the other festivals. Singling these out, we've made a fusion list to summarize the perfect Folk Festival! (Utopia)

Posted by Big Rock Brewery

 

AWARD FOR BEST LINE-UP.......

BEST LINE UP: CALGARY FOLK FESTIVAL

BEST LINE UP: CALGARY FOLK FESTIVAL

Calgary, hands down.  As we mentioned in our blogs at the time, Calgary puts great effort into appealing to a younger audience, and as a result the lineup ends up far more diverse.  Two of my favourite acts of the entire summer were Akron/Family and The Decemeberists, both of which were at Calgary Folk Fest.

AWARD FOR BEST HILL.....

BEST HILL: EDMONTON FOLK FEST

BEST HILL: EDMONTON FOLK FEST

While Yellowknife had a nice little natural auditorium with its beachy hill, the award undoubtedly goes to Edmonton!

Performers at the Edmonton Folk Festival say this (time and time again) as they look out at around ten thousand people rising before them, "the hill really is magnificent".  For the audience it means natural stadium seating- enjoying seeing the musicians rather than the backs of heads!  The downtown Edmonton skyline acts as a perfect backdrop, along with the pyramids of the Muttart Conservatory.  The highlight of the hill comes on Sunday night, when absolutely everyone on the grounds lights a candle and sings "Four Strong Winds", and the hill is transformed into a sea of moving lights.

AWARD FOR BEST CAMPING....

BEST CAMPING: WINNIPEG FOLK FESTIVAL

BEST CAMPING: WINNIPEG FOLK FESTIVAL

Do I even need to say it?

Winnipeg has a huge head up on other festivals for this reason, as no other festival even lets you camp (in fact, in Edmonton if you show up to line up before 6 am you are sent to the back of the line once the gates are opened).  The reason Winnipeg was such a party was in a large part due to the camping after the show was done.  Parades appeared spontaneously, people built entire castles, and were bullied into fireside haircuts after having one too many.  The location of the Winnipeg Folk Festival (45 minutes outside the city) makes this camping experience possible. While the downtown aspect of Edmonton or Calgary is cool - Winnipeg has a fantastic head-up on other festivals with the campground experience!

AWARD FOR BEST BACKSTAGE....

BEST BACKSTAGE: WINNIPEG FOLK FESTIVAL

BEST BACKSTAGE: WINNIPEG FOLK FESTIVAL

Well, Winnipeg gets another.

Even though most festival-goers don't get to enjoy festival backstages (remember, we're the Grasshoppers *ahem* VIP's), we had to mention Winnipeg because it really is cool.

Not only do the wonderful volunteers cook three meals a day in a great, huge food tent, but the backstage area has its own beer garden.  (Generally speaking more beer gardens = more approval from Claire and Bryn.)

AWARD FOR BEST SCENERY....

BEST SCENERY: YELLOWKNIFE FOLK ON THE ROCKS

BEST SCENERY: YELLOWKNIFE FOLK ON THE ROCKS

Yellowknife!  It's sort of unfair really.  How do you compete with a lake, a beach and nearly 24 hours of sunlight?

Yellowknife was beautiful, almost so beautiful they could have dropped the Jonas Brothers on stage and the Folkies wouldn't have minded (I said almost). Unlike any other festival, Yellowknife is mostly sandy, which makes sitting on your blankets for several consecutive hours much more forgiving. The nearby lake provides convenient relief from the hot sun. Tons of the festival-goers (including Bryn!) took advantage. Beautiful place. But, while we're kindly reminiscing, let's just forego mentioning the flies...

AWARD FOR MOST CHILL....

MOST CHILL: OTTAWA FOLK FESTIVAL

MOST CHILL: OTTAWA FOLK FESTIVAL

Well, perhaps it's the size and the fact that it is a newer festival but Ottawa definitely had a cool vibe.  In our time at the folk festivals Bryn and I have experienced some *ahem* less than laid back attitudes at the Folk Festivals. But none of that was to be found at Ottawa where people really were there just for a good time and not to prove what die-hard folkers they are.

Keep it Ottawa! If this great vibe can be kept up as the festivals ages it will be a good thing.

We'll spend a few more days reminiscing and then post some of our best video footage. The folk fests may be over, but.... folk on!

We are passing the torch for the 2010 festival season. Post your application at bigrockbeer.com/grasshoppin.

 

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