First sellout for Calgary folk fest, Alexandra Burroughs, Calgary Herald, July 27, 2009

Posted by on 27 July 2009

After 30 years of tunes, tarpies and tumultuous weather the Calgary Folk Music Festival wrapped Sunday with a complete four-day sell out.

"We've come full circle," says Folk Festival general manager Les Siemieniuk. "There's a progression from the first year to now. It's not like we haven't been close to selling out before, but this is the first time we've made it."

Exactly 12,000 tickets were sold each day of the four-day festival, bringing the total to 48,000. That's capacity for Prince's Island Park, but Siemieniuk says there might be other ways to achieve growth.

Although he didn't rule out the idea of lengthening the four-day event, he said another option might be to host events throughout the winter or to place stages off-site throughout the current summer festival.

"There are all sorts of things we could do," says Siemieniuk. "But let's just enjoy this success for now."

That's exactly what folkies did Sunday.

Oblivious to audience numbers and broken records, Calgarians of all ages kicked off their summer sandals Sunday and folked out.

They danced like no one was watching, ate like they weren't on a diet and shopped like they didn't have a mortgage.

"It's been amazing," says Cathy Terepocki, who brought her boutique to the festival for the first time this year.

"People have been so kind and so interested in our stuff. We'd heard good things about the festival, but this has been incredible."

While the crowds packed food vendors (fresh fire-roasted pizza was a new favourite) and the usual suspects kept people busy in the beer gardens, many first timers took the time to walk the grounds and take it all in.

"I didn't know what to wear, I didn't know what to bring. I just wasn't sure what to expect," says Naz Fortis of taking in her first festival.

"I have always heard how easy it is to come down and enjoy it. Now I wish I had come all four days."

The festival's accessibility might be the secret behind its latest success.

"It's really gone mainstream-- young or old, straight or gay, folky and not-so-folky" says Jude Williams, 49, who has been volunteering at the festival since 1996.

"There really is something for everyone here."

Whether napping in the shade beside an afternoon workshop or shaking it one metre from Arrested Development's incredible afternoon jam session, there really was something for everyone Sunday at the folk festival.

Kids could be found scaling the climbing wall, stilt-walking or having their face painted while teenagers roamed the grounds in herds picking their own music and setting their own schedules.

"I like to come down with my mom and then ditch her," said one 14-year-old girl, who asked not to be named.

"She's probably happy I take off with my friends down here all day."