Flood fails to fold up Calgary Folk Festival

Posted by Lisa Wilton on 25 July 2013

There wasn’t much Kerry Clarke could do but watch as last month’s flood waters swallowed up a huge portion of Prince’s Island Park.

The Calgary Folk Music Festival’s artistic director was understandably concerned about how the extensive damage on the island would affect this year’s event, but cautiously optimistic the show would still go on. “We rode the rollercoaster ride as best we could,” says Clarke.

“It’s been more stressful than usual.”

But after a month of intense work by the City of Calgary’s Parks & Recreation team – as well as a one-day volunteer cleanup that saw 250 people show up – Prince’s Island Park is in decent enough shape to hold the 33rd annual Folk Fest.

Unfortunately, the festival lost two stages on the island, but was able to add a new one in Eau Claire Market. “There are areas of the park that are a no-go zone and that will change navigating the site,” Clarke explains.

“There have also been some programming changes … We made the family a bit more compact so we don’t have the climbing wall this year and the artisan market is moved to inside Eau Claire Market for this year.”

Clarke says both artists and pass holders have been patient with festival staff as they’ve sorted out the new logistics.

“People kept buying tickets after the flood,” she says. “And we tried to communicate with everyone as best we could.”

The Calgary Folk Music Festival is an annual tradition for many Calgarians and the importance of it going ahead after the flood displaced so many isn’t lost on Clarke.

“I think people are in the mood to get together and get a break from flood woes, so hopefully we provide that,” she says. “It’s always a festival of discovery with amazing music (and comedy) that’s very community-based. Calgary has shown itself to be a city where community comes together and supports each other and the festival will be a microcosm of that.”