These were some of Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s words as she opened the Calgary Folk Music Festival on July 21, after a long hiatus from 2019’s full on event.
And while the mayor was referring to her own youth, listening to bands like the Blue Oyster Cult, the subtext for day one of Folk Fest was a much more chill, normal experience for concert goers.
Except for the performances, which saw Brazil’s Xênia França, Nashville’s Devon Gilfillian, New Orleans’ Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Fort Erie, Ontario’s DJ Shub get people off their feet and dancing to some block rocking beats.
Back was the dash for tarp space, food trucks, vendors, activities, and of course music. All of which was much more 2019, than the scaled back 2021 version of Folk Fest.
“It’s been great, so far,” said Katie Borrowman, a potter with Of Cabbages and Kings.
“I mean, it’s early on Thursday, but everyone’s happy and excited, all the volunteers are super friendly— they’ve been very helpful—everyone seems really happy to be here.” she said.
Borrowman had previously attended the 2018 and 2019 Folk Fests as a vendor. She said that this was one of her first opportunities to reconnect with other vendors from previous years, post-pandemic.
Folk Fest returns on Friday, July 22 starting at 3 p.m. with Clea Anaïs on Stage 5. Mainstage performances begin at 5:45 p.m. with Bette Smith, followed by The Wood Brothers, Josh Ritter, Watchhouse, and K’naan.
For more details on the lineup of performers for the entire Calgary Folk Music Festival weekend, see www.calgaryfolkfest.com.
Site licence for beer and spirits a big hit
New this year is full site licensing for all of Prince’s Island Park, allowing patrons to collect their beer, wine, or cocktail and enjoy it at their tarp instead of inside just inside a fenced off area.
And while some patrons chose to have a more sedate experience, drinking their beers in the Big Rock Beer Garden, many more took their drinks directly to the main stage and National stage for the evening’s performances.
Liz Sheward and Ross Ferguson were among the many festival goers who were taking advantage of the greater freedom this year.
“It’s perfect,” said Ferguson.
“I think most people are responsible adults, and they can think for themselves pretty comfortably, so yeah, I think it just opens it up for more personal responsibility.”
Sheward said that it also decreased the pressure to have a drink as quickly as possible in order to get back to watching bands, cutting back on the number of intoxicated people.
“In previous years you’d see a lot of people in the beer gardens, double fisting beers, and then going ‘oh crap, my my band’s on,’ and then just chugging those beers and taking off,” said Sheward.
“I think this is a way to kind of curb the binge drinkers that have that fear of missing out, want to get back, and all of a sudden they drink two or three beers too fast.”