Although the Winnipeg Folk Festival is only a half-hour drive from the city, festival artistic director Chris Frayer says it provides an immersive experience, unlike many other festivals.
Camping is available, and the festival is self-sufficient in terms of food and entertainment. Attendees can learn to live together in this micro-community and take a break from their day-to-day lives.
“(Bird’s Hill Park) gets transformed during the four days in July from being a place in the wilderness to basically being a small village of about 15,000 people,” Frayer says.
The artisans, food vendors, workshops, jam sessions and, of course, concerts give people the opportunity to take in a lot at the festival. There’s a sense of escapism from day-to-day life, created by a collision of all those factors, Frayer says.
The atmosphere at the festival is shaped by both the organizers and the people who participate, he says. For those living and relaxing in the densely populated area, the festival becomes a community for those few days.
“You get a really strong feeling that you’re part of something that’s bigger than you,” Frayer says.
The fun continues into the festival campground, where giant games are set up and jam sessions go well into the night. There is quiet camping available for people who prefer a good night’s rest, and those who go home to sleep are welcomed back into the community in the morning.
“Many people grow up with the festival,” Frayer says. It’s their community, and that’s why they keep coming back, year after year.
WHEN July 6 to 9
WHERE Birds Hill Provincial Park
$$$ Advance adult four-day ticket prices range from $229-$304 with camping options available; Single-day tickets are $68-$88; See the website for youth/senior pricing; Children 12 and under are free
DON'T MISS John K. Samson and the Winter Wheat