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Folk, ya! A Prairie Gathering Like No Other

Published: 05/27/2011

The Winnipeg Folk Festival takes place every summer around the second weekend in July in Birds Hill Provincial Park, a short ½ hr. drive north of Winnipeg.

Are you coming? Do you have concerns as a first-time festival goer? Here's some insider information:

1. Is folk music too "middle the road" for your taste?
Folk music is a term used rather loosely at the festival. This year over 250 artists from all over the world have been invited to perform in 80 acts. You can count on diversity in the line-up with those kinds of numbers. There are 7 outdoor stages running concurrently during the day and as you make your way from one stage to another, don't be surprised if you hear snippets of deep blues, hip-hop, achin' breakin' country and folk, jazz, indie rock and maybe even the squeal of bagpipes, the twang of a banjo and the harmonic complexities of electronica. As the sun sets on the mainstage, the real magic begins.

2. Does the price of a ticket give you pause?
Think about the costs incurred while taking your family to a movie. (And that's only 2 hours of canned entertainment.) The Folk Festival 5-day advance ticket (available until June 30) will cost an adult $210.00, seniors and youths $123.00, and children (5-14 years) a mere $16.00. Babies and toddlers get in for free. If a 5-day commitment seems a bit intimidating, then consider a day pass.

3. Speaking of kiddies, how would you hold their attention all day and night?
It's never too soon to start training a little folkie. The Winnipeg Folk Festival has a dedicated family area with activities geared towards children. Transform your child into a tiger or an angel; let them muck about in the low-pressure sprinkler system or let them go nuts with paint and paper or modeling clay in the shade of the Chickadee Big Top tent.

4. Is it an age thing?
The demographic of the folkie is hard to nail down, so let's just say it runs the full gamut - from babies to octogenarians.

5. What to wear?
Fans are united in their desire to express themselves and anything goes.

6. Maybe you're worried about the weather because, after all, this is an outdoor event.
Gear up or down depending on what the skies look like. Hats, sunscreen, rain gear, bug spray, refillable water jugs - load up the car or your backpack with everything you need. The prairie sunsets are almost as impressive as all the wonderful musical acts. If the weather turns - go to the beer tent!

7. Does the thought of merging with 14,000 scantily clad people seem overwhelming?
Well-trained volunteers ensure that the festival runs like a finely tuned engine - and your happiness, comfort and safety are always at the top of their list.

8. Oh, I know, maybe you're reluctant to go (pun intended) to the festival because of the outdoor biffy thing.
I can tell you this: there are frequently-cleaned port-o-lets everywhere with abundant toilet paper. Furthermore, the creep-factor can be washed away at the many hand-washing stations.

9. Do you have to forgo shopping to attend the Folk Fest?
Thankfully, there is the Hand-Made Village - which features artful crafts, fashions, jewelry and all sorts of cool, high quality items made by 50 talented artists.

10. And finally, (because surely there isn't more than 10 concerns), you might be worried about satisfying your belly's urges with nutritious food.
Deep-fried Whales Tails are 100% nutritious, but maybe you think otherwise. Many people bring their own food and enjoy on-the-spot picnics. If you choose to travel light, however, take advantage of the Food Village. This year there will be dozens of food concessions devoted to meeting all of your culinary cravings. The Winnipeg Folk Festival strives to make sustainable food choices available to the masses.

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