Folk fest grows its presence

Posted by Shannon Sutherland-Smith on 30 June 2015

Folk fest has long been a force in the festival season, but now it is enjoying influence in all seasons. "As an organization, we’ve taken several risks over the past few years,” says Calgary Folk Music Festival executive director Debbi Salmonsen.

“With taking a risk and building Festival Hall, we evolved from being a primarily summer festival focused staff and board, to having a busy, year-round presence in Calgary’s arts community. The hall, located in historic Inglewood, offers both a performance and rental space. The second year of programming at the hall just recently wrapped up.

“We produced 35 of our own shows, including a new youth education and performance program,” says Salmonsen.

“One of many concert highlights for me was the Charlie Brown Christmas show featuring the Jerry Granelli Trio and a delightful children’s choir. Another highlight this year was our partnership with The Nash restaurant and chef Michael Noble, who generously sponsored a special fundraising event, Under Your Hat.”

This summer, the flagship Calgary Folk Music Festival — July 23 to 26 — will feature music by more than 70 artists as well as food vendors, an arts market and other “surprises” at Prince’s Island Park, says Salmonsen.

More than 1,700 volunteers contribute their time and talents to the organization to present the folk festival, which intentionally breaksdown-genre- based-divisions and cultural barriers.


From left, Calgary Folk Music Festival executive director Debbi Salmonsen, artistic director Kerry Clarke and resource development director Sara Leishman.

Strong local partnerships have also been forged. “We continue to partner with many different community groups through and by providing an affordable rental space with non- profit rates for community groups,” says Salmonsen.

“We have a dedicated, hardworking staff team and volunteer boardof directors who are dedicated to staying relevant, focused and sustainable as an organization.”

This years July 23- 26th folk festival will feature an auditory banquet to satisfy the appetite of Calgary’s diverse music fans.

Artists from 14 countries will play in concerts and workshops over four days. There are 28 headliners including Father John Misty, Lucinda Williams, Buffy St. Marie, the Budos Band, Milk Carton Kids and the Mavericks. To see the full line- up, visit