Folk Fest grows

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Venerable event boasts expanded venue and enhanced performance

The 34th annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival begins today in Bannerman Park in St. John’s. Plenty of attention is going to the collection of acts destined for the main stage with a list that list includes Hey Rosetta!, David Francey, Archie Fisher, Old Man Luedecke, Waterson : Carthy, Amelia Curran, Rose Cousins, The Irish Descendents, The Masterless Men and The Wonderful Grand Band, to name a few.

Folk Fest grows

Yet, true folkies will tell you that the festival’s atmosphere and “small” stages, also called “tent” stages — with their workshops and new discoveries — can make the event.

Caroline Clarke said she enjoys attending the festival each year. She has wandered between the stages, played her mandolin. She has also volunteered, sitting on the board of the Folk Arts Council for a time. Clarke is also a printmaker who, for several years, has lent her work to be used for the official festival T-shirts.

Her original relief prints are translated to a digital image and then screen printed for the shirts, she explained. Past years the images have featured a fiddler, an accordion player, a kitchen party scene and a group of dancers running the goat. This year, it is a crowd of dancers on a downtown street, an image (right) inspired by Ron Hynes’ “St. John’s Waltz.”

“This year I asked people what their favourite tunes were, friends of mine, and that was one of them that came up,” Clarke told The Telegram on Wednesday. “It’s just kind of what I visualize when the song comes to mind.”

Clarke’s original print will be part of an exhibition at the Craft Council Gallery in Devon House beginning Aug. 28. But will she be attending this weekend’s folk festival?

“Oh yes. I can’t miss the Wonderful Grand Band, right? And Hey Rosetta!”


The Wonderful Grand Band’s Sandy Morris is no stranger to the Folk Festival and will take to the main stage twice this weekend <\_> once with Larry Foley and once with grand band fellows Ron Hynes, Greg Malone, Glenn Simmons, Ian Perry, Jamie Snider and Paul Stamp.

“I like it all. I love the main stage because you’re playing for a local townie audience right in the park I grew up skinning my knees in,” Morris said Wednesday.

“The small stages are so intimate and it’s like having people in your living room almost.”

Morris’ full schedule is an example of how the festival uses its smaller stages to have guests offering as much to audiences as possible. Morris will perform at multiple small stage venues, among them a session with Colleen Power in the Francophone Tent. He said he will also be part of a workshop session on having guitar music accompanying folk songs.

This year I asked people what their favourite tunes were, friends of mine, and that was one of them that came up,” Caroline Clarke

As for what audiences can expect?

“I guess they’ll expect to be dazzled,” Morris said. “Anything else is not worth the price of admission.”

For all those paying admission, there are some new offerings to note in this year’s festival. A new “small stage” venue has been added. The Cultural Diversity Tent will offer music connected with the province’s British heritage. In future, the tent will spotlight a new music culture year-to-year.

There will also be night dances in 2010. At the Dance Stage, the first will start at 7 p.m. on Saturday with caller Jim Payne and music by Glenn Hiscock. Starting at the same time on Sunday will be caller Tonya Kearley and the musicians of Pigeon Inlet.

Other changes have been made as well. The festival entrance has been moved from Military Road to just off Bannerman Road, next to the playground. The move was a response to congestion being caused by the large crowds coming out in recent years — the crowd that came out for Serena Ryder’s appearance in 2009 being specifically mentioned.

The festival grounds will also be larger this year. According to the Folk Arts Society newsletter, the grounds have been “extended by 30 per cent.” This was, in part, to provide more space between the various stages.

With all of this — the main stage lineup, colourful T-shirts, specialty stages, workshops, a new entrance and larger grounds — the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival will begin with the singing of the “Ode to Newfoundland” at 6:15 p.m.

Tonight’s tickets were expected to sell out in pre-sale, however anyone without a ticket interested in attending Saturday or Sunday is encouraged to check on availability. 

More coverage of the festival will be made available online and in Monday’s edition of The Telegram.

Organizations: Folk Arts Council, Craft Council Gallery, Devon House Folk Arts Society

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Military Road, Bannerman Road

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Recent comments

  • Saucy Face
    August 07, 2010 - 08:24

    I love the festival and go every year, but it's TOO big for Bannerman Park anymore. Bowring Park is a better location now; in the large field under the bridge near the swimming pool where Green Day played back in the late 90's would be peferct.