WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHY: Brett Fillmore
Wondering about this year’s big event? We’ve got you covered.
Which part of the grounds should I make sure to check out?
The Spruce Hollow stage is hard to find, and very small—a tucked away slice of shady, wooded ambiance. Go early before a set and soak up the most intimate experience of your weekend.
What is my best late night option?
The Big Bluestem stage gets wild after dark, both onstage and off. Need an example? Last year it featured an impromptu performance by a drunk Rayland Baxter singing the Eagles. Beyond that, the campground is the best place for party down shenanigans.
Wait, what? A raucous campground? I thought this was a folk fest.
The venue is well outside the city and most younger attendees camp, so the campground vibe is a lot closer to those you’ll find at rowdier festivals. There’s a definite bohemian flair, as exemplified by Pollock’s Fix It Shop and miscellaneous jam session areas with various publicly available instruments.
Who are the headliners? Any big names I should check out?
Take note of indie pop OGs The Shins, CanCon legend Daniel Lanois, and the endlessly engrossing Feist, who at her most recent festival gig played through her mesmerizing new album Pleasure in its entirety, front to back.
Any notable sleepers?
Big Thief will bring the Brooklyn indie rock necessary for any great festival, John K Sampson will surely dip into The Weakerthans catalog for a crowd-pleasing hometown set, and Grammy-nominated Brandi Carlile may just steal your heart with down-home toe-tappers like this.
What about some wild cards if I decide I want to get weird?
Cris Derksen will play indigenous-inspired cello through guitar distortion and loop pedals, Choir! Choir! Choir! is arranged as a real-time crowd source project where anybody is welcome to perform on stage as part of the act, and Kiev quartet DakhaBrakha will definitely have the weirdest instruments (and best hats) of the weekend.
What food should I check out?
There are many excellent options, so choose wisely. Check out the raspberry basil lime ice pops at PopCart, Navraten Korma from East India Company, and Nacho Perogies from Better than Baba’s.
What should I drink?
Anything you can get your hands on, obviously. The beer garden at the back of the Big Bluestem stage is a sneaky way to avoid lines in the venue.
Anything else I should know about?
1) This past year the festival’s founder had some fairly serious medical bills covered by a crowd source project.
2) There is a special collaboration with other Canadian festivals on the Bur Oak stage on Saturday with a bunch of different musicians playing famous Canadian cover songs.
3) The festival usually concludes with a weird crowd sing-along on Sunday night, so be prepared.
Happy folk fest!