Thank Goodness The Folk Fest Isn't Gone

Posted by Mike Morrision on 25 July 2013

In her song, Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell poetically sang “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

It’s a song that I’ve thought about a lot over the past couple of weeks, especially because we came so close to losing so much. The Calgary Zoo and Prince’s Island Park both got hit hard, but this weekend, Calgarians will finally be welcomed back to the island for the Calgary Folk Music Festival and next Wednesday, the Calgary Zoo will begin its staggered opening.

If you had asked me a couple of weeks ago if this year’s Calgary Folk Music Festival was going to happen, I would have confidently said no. As someone who lives just a few blocks away from Prince’s Island Park, over two days I watched the water threaten and then eventually consume the historic green space. When the water did recede, the island was covered in thick mud, making it impossible to imagine that in just a few weeks, it would be in a condition to feature seven stages and tents and host more than 50,000 people. But, thanks to the ever-impressive group of Calgary volunteers, I have once again been proven wrong.

If you’ve never been to the Calgary Folk Music Festival or maybe you don’t even know if you like folk music, I implore you to pick up a day pass or two. Truthfully, every year, the Folk Festival line up might as well be a Russian phone book. I could probably count on one hand how many of the bands I’ve actually heard of, but after a few years of pretending I’m exited to see this or that guy play a guitar, I’ve realized that for many people, the music is just a small component of the four-day festival.

This weekend, when the festival takes over the island, it will essentially turn Prince’s Island Park into a small city. Actually with a temporary population of more than 50,000 people, it rivals the size of my hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick, only without the HST.

In between pretending I know lyrics of the song by the artist I’ve never heard of, you can often find me wandering the park, shopping at the dozen of shops scattered around the island. I don’t know how they do it, but T-shirts from folk fest just seem more comfortable. Same goes for the food. There’s something about sitting under a shaded tree listening to folk music that just makes food taste better.

Which I think is the point of folk fest. From discovering new music, to supporting this city’s entrepreneurs, Calgary Folk Music Festival seemingly makes it easier to become a better person and this year, that’s what’s I’ll appreciate more than ever.