Party in the park

Karla Hayward
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Over the next three days, some of the provinces best-known performers join with a few international treasures at the 31st Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival

The early days of August mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Warm nights, vacation time, the Regatta, George Street Festival but to those with rhythm in their step and a song in their heart, it can only mean the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival.

Now in its 31st year, the festival is the grown-up baby of the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Council. Its reputation of being a haven for incredible musicians of all genres and ages is well known. Festival-goers prepare themselves every year for three awesome days and nights of music, fun, storytelling and memory-making.

This years event is a tribute to Dermot OReilly. Sherry House, executive director of the Arts Council explains, Dermot performed at the festival for many, many years. He was also a volunteer and his wife Anne is a volunteer. To leave out Dermot would have felt wrong. To not honour someone who contributed so much to this event would have been wrong. Everyone contributes to the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador, but he loved the folk festival. Theres absolutely no way we could have missed this chance to honour him.

Musicians will remember OReilly on Sunday night, starting at 8:50 pm. Organized and hosted by Fergus OByrne, performers will include Jim Payne, Deneille Hann, Larry Foley, Pat Moran and Fergus Brown-OByrne.

The festival kicks off this evening at 6:45 pm. Hosted by Ted Blades, show-goers will be first treated to the usual opening ceremonies on the main stage, then serenaded by Sandy Morris and Jenny Gear.

Four more awesome acts follow up the duo before the world-beat of Mopaya takes over the stage and anybody able to dance. Bring comfortable shoes and a waterbottle: this crew will have you sweating and swaying the whole way through.

Saturday sees the show divided into two segments: afternoon and evening. Under what will hopefully be sunny skies, Joe Belly and the Sin City Ramblers will start the action at 1 p.m., with Neil Butler as host. Siesta time brings the Ballad Session with the likes of Anita Best and Allen Byrne.

At 7 p.m., Jean Hewson and Sam Whiffen take over as hosts and welcome the Accordion Session, then Andy Jones, a fitting follow-up to the squeezebox. Later, indulge in the lyrics of Sean Panting, then drift off with the Appalachian-influenced Dyad, and share a nightcap with Kelly Russell and the Planks.

Lazy-day Sunday is jam-packed with action, hosted by Francesca Swann. Dont miss the jazz-i-licious Mary Barry at 2:55 p.m., then stick around for the toe-tapping Fiddle Session, followed up by the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Wilf Doyle.

Let storyteller extraordinaire Dale Jarvis bend your ear Sunday evening, then connect with an incredible piece of Canadiana with the Six String Nation Guitar played by Jean Hewson, Pamela Morgan, Sandy Morris, Gordon Quinton, Foy Taylor and Eric West. You can even get your portrait taken with this important icon of national unity for free.

And, of course, theres all the youth-oriented action Saturday and Sunday afternoon on the Neil Murray stage, plus workshops, craft demonstrations and artisans, concessions and games, community organizations like Oxfam and the Food Bank, a beer tent, dancing and new and old friendships with young and old alike.

Sherry House has one parting entreaty for the potential audiences, There was a lot of press last year because we lost money. And the year before we had a hard year too. Debts are cumulative, so we came seriously close to not having a festival. People have to realize that they have to come out and support these events or they wont happen. So come out and support local events. Keep these traditions humming along. Bring your family, kids under 12 are free!

The 31st Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival takes place Friday to Sunday at Bannerman Park in St. Johns. For more information visit or call the office at (709) 576-8508.

Heres the lineup for the 31st Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival

Main Stage

Friday Evening, host Ted Blades

6:45 p.m.Opening ceremonies

7 p.m.Sandy Morris and Jenny Gear

7:45 p.m.Shawn Lidster and Friends

8:30 p.m.Sherry Ryan and Mark Bragg

9:15 p.m.Crooked Stovepipe

10 p.m.Dana Whittle and Claude Méthé Band

10:45 p.m.Mopaya

Saturday Afternoon, host Neil Butler

1 p.m.Joe Belly and the Sin City Ramblers

1:40 p.m.Ford Elms

1:50 p.m.Ballad Session (Anita Best, Allen Byrne, Linda Slade-Byrne, Kori Miyanishi, and Danny Spooner)

2:40 p.m.The Forgotten Bouzouki

3:30 p.m.McInnis Kitchen

4:10 p.m.Dance

Saturday Evening, hosts Jean Hewson and Sam Whiffen

7 p.m. Accordion Session (Vince Collins, Daniel Payne, Frank Maher, Art Stoyles, and Allan Ricketts)

7:45 p.m.Andy Jones

8:05 p.m.Sean Panting

8:35 p.m.Rowdy Blues

9:15 p.m. Mahers Bahers

9:55 p.m. Dyad

10:45 p.m. Kelly Russell and the Planks

Sunday Afternoon, host Francesca Swann

1 p.m. Gulliver's Spree

1:40 p.m. The Rosalines

2:10 p.m. Danny Spooner

2:40 p.m. Penny Folk Dance Demo

2:55 p.m. Mary Barry and Paddy Barry

3:30 p.m. Fiddle Session (Claude Méthé, Shiho Mizumoto, Pat Moran, Kelly Russell, and Christina Smith)

4:15 p.m.Lifetime Achievement Award: Wilf Doyle

4:20 p.m. Ray Walsh Family

Sunday Evening, host John Clarke

7 p.m. Richard Neville

7:45 p.m.The Once

8:30 p.m. Dale Jarvis

8:50 p.m. Tribute to Dermot OReilly

9.30 p.m. Little Miss Higgins

10:15 p.m. Crowd of Bold Sharemen

11 p.m. Six-String Nation Guitar Session (Jean Hewson, Pamela Morgan, Sandy Morris, Gordon Quinton, Foy Taylor, and Eric West)

Neil Murray Stage

Saturday Afternoon

1:30 p.m. Chelsea Parsons

2 p.m. Peter Green

2:30 p.m. Katrina & Keely Boland

3 p.m. Russells in the Corner

3:30 p.m.STEP Fiddlers

Sunday Afternoon

1:30 p.m.Penny Folk Dancers

2 p.m. Matthew Morry

2:30 p.m. Ellen Power

3 p.m. Mark Browne

3:30 p.m. Jenna Kelly

4 p.m. The Petty Rogues

4:30 p.m. Eventide

For more info: Contact Sherry at 576-8508 or

Organizations: Sherry House, Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Council, Sin City Ramblers Oxfam Food Bank Katrina & Keely Boland

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Bannerman Park

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