Every year for the past three years Callista Burridge has received a weekend pass to the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival as a Mother’s Day gift from her children.
They tried it the first year and Burridge had so much fun she now looks forward to getting her ticket every year.
“I hope they keep it coming,” laughed the Deer Lake resident.
“I can’t be more pleased than what I am now. It’s wonderful,” she added.
Burridge was one of the thousands of people who were in Bannerman Park in St. John’s Sunday afternoon for the Masterless Men show on the festival’s main stage.
This weekend marked the 36th annual festival and people turned out in droves to take in the food, crafts and, most importantly, the music.
They could not have asked for better weather.
The sun was bright and warm; there was hardly a cloud in the sky around 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Anyone who wanted shade could easily move under one of the park’s towering trees, but most people parked their blankets and lawn chairs in the sunniest spot they could find.
It’s a far cry from last year’s festival, said Gord Delaney, marketing and sponsorship co-ordinator with the event.
Last year’s festival was nearly rained out.
Friday’s events went ahead as planned but Delaney described Saturday as looking “like a bowl of pea soup everywhere.” Heavy wind, rain and cold temperatures drove the festival out of Bannerman Park and into Mile One for the remainder of the weekend.
So enjoying the nice weather is a welcome change from last year, laughed Delaney.
“It’s hard to compare,” he said.
“We went from 2010, where we had our record breaking year, ... and then last year was right down to the bottom again. We had great attendance last year, but it’s not the same as being in the park with this feeling. You can hear the music around you, just the vibe going around is great,” he said.
“The weekend has been outstanding. It’s great to be back in Bannerman Park and we’ve seen close to record numbers,” he said, adding a record would depend on Sunday night’s attendance numbers.
As of Sunday afternoon there had already been about 10,000 people enter the gates of the park.
Robert Gardener was one of those visitors. He’s from San Jose, Calif., but comes to Newfoundland every year with a group of friends. They’ve come to the folk festival several times over the years.
“It’s a great tradition, it’s really fun,” said Gardner.
“It’s a great experience and it’s a good snapshot I think for a lot of people who come to visit. They get to hear what Newfoundland music sounds like, and they get some of the local stuff that you don’t get to hear in the bars.”
There was indeed an abundance of local musicians in this year’s line up, said Delaney.
The reasoning behind doing that was partly for financial reasons, but mostly as a deliberate attempt to showcase the raw talent coming from Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It’s just been encouraging to see that we have a 90 per cent Newfoundland and Labrador line up this year. We’re known for bringing in artists from out of province but this year we wanted to invest in our own,” he said.
“People are just amazed at the talent here. Our artists are world class and it’s just a confirmation to many this weekend that we have the best of the best here in this province.”