On what was a sunny and warm Sunday, The Telegram spoke with Folk Arts Society president Anita Best at the festival grounds.
“We doubled our capacity and we sold out two nights, and the daytime attendance has been up. I’d say up 50 per cent,” Best said.
The increased capacity for the festival’s 34th year came with a 30 per cent expansion of the grounds.
Best said there were some added costs to the changes, such as money for additional fencing. “I think we’ll recoup the costs,” she said.
An hour at the festival midday on Sunday was enough time to sample a dozen different performances.
You could begin at the dance tent and try your feet at Contra dancing, with music from Nightingale (Becky Tracy, Jeremiah McLane and Keith Murphy). The band — also seen on the main stage on Saturday afternoon — is from Vermont but “inspired by the traditions of Quebec, Newfoundland, Ireland, France and Scandinavia.”
Soon after, the instrumental tent had Michelle Brophy performing as part of the “Winds of Change” show. The show used woodwinds, including Brophy’s flute, for traditional jigs and reels. Other scheduled “Winds of Change” performers were Gerry Strong, Hammy Hamilton and Rob Brown.
Exiting the instrumental tent, walking across the festival grounds (noting a line-up of 26 people at the ticket booth), there was Matthew Byrne on the main stage.
Byrne, whose new CD release is titled “Ballads,” performed with his guitar for some tunes and then only with his voice for others, but prefaced each number in true traditional style — with a little note on the song’s origins. Byrne also performed two workshops during the weekend. One of the workshops included Archie Fisher, who Byrne called “a longtime folk hero of mine.”
“We doubled our capacity and we sold out two nights and the daytime attendance has been up.” - President of the Folk Arts Society, Anita Best
Leaving behind the ballads and the smell of french fries in front of the main stage, you could discover Charlotte-Anne Malischewski in the Francophone tent. The stage inside was creatively dressed to look like a kitchen, bringing visitors into their own kitchen party. Malischewski seemed to perform effortlessly — showing her musical growth since her start at the festival at the age of seven.
After a taste of the kitchen party, you could wander back at the main stage for Ray and Greg Walsh. From Bay de Verde, Ray Walsh is perhaps most recognized for his work with the CBC television series “All Around the Circle.” His son, Greg, is now a performer in his own right, joining with his father in the Walsh Family Band.
In addition to the music and dancing, you could view the artwork for sale in the Francophone tent, or have a look through the craft tent near the main stage. Then there was also the merchandise tent, with
T-shirts from Living Planet, accordions and bodhrans from O’Brien’s and CDs from Fred’s. According to the saleswomen with Fred’s, the top sellers for the weekend were albums from the main stage acts. The self-titled CD from Matthew Hornell and the Diamond Minds, Amelia Curran’s “Hunter, Hunter” and everything from The Wonderful Grand Band all received specific mention.