Mike Morrison, Metro Calgary: Please don't take my plate at Calgary Folk Fest, kids

Posted by on 26 July 2012


This weekend, thousands of Calgarians and their families will be swarming Prince’s Island Park to enjoy the sweet sounds of this year’s practically sold out Calgary Folk Music Festival.

On top of attracting world class music and dozens of vendors with fantastic finds, the festival is also remarkably responsible when it comes to their green efforts. With several programs set in place, like prohibiting the sale of water bottles, the Folk Fest leaves as little impact on the beautiful park as possible.

 Another one of these programs has Folkies paying a $2 deposit when purchasing their food, and when you’re finished you can then return the plate and get your $2 back.

If you’ve ever been to the festival, you know that usually before you get a chance to return your plate, a nice-looking child will offer to take the plate for you. Agreeing means they get to keep your $2 

After years of thinking that these kids were collecting money for charity, last year, I finally asked one particularly charming looking child where the money she was collecting went. As her pigtails swayed in the late July breeze, she said they kept every penny for themselves. As you can imagine, I was shocked. Here I was at this incredibly earth friendly event, thinking my money was going to a local charity, like the sport teams that sell 50/50 tickets at Flames games, but as it turns out these kids are really no different than the ones featured in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

With the festival celebrating ‘community’, it feels odd to see peoples’ children pocketing so much money. Maybe if the kids told me they were doing it so they could go to band camp or buy books for their school, I’d feel better about it. But for them to just swoop in, pick up my plate and cash it in – sometimes even before I’ve had a chance to finish my Ship burger – leaves me, well, with a bad taste in my mouth.

Before you say that at least they are taking initiative, I don’t think grabbing plates is initiative. Sure it’s clever, but what happened to selling lemonade, delivering newspapers or babysitting? Now those are good jobs for kids. Taking advantage of the generosity of strangers enjoying the beer gardens is definitely not cute or interesting.

This weekend, I’ll be holding on to my plate, because I’d much rather my $2 go to a non-profit like the Folk Fest, then to a sneaky child looking to make some quick cash.