Image: Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Image: Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Vancouver Folk Music Festival returns to Jericho Beach Park July 18-20 and advance tickets are on sale now. We love Folk Fest not only because it’s been a part of Kits culture since 1978, but also because the organizers do a great job of honouring the past while keeping up with what’s hot now. This year, for example, folk legend Joan Baez is coming along with the offbeat superstar Andrew Bird, who gives remarkable live performances. Follow the links to find out more about 2014 Folk Fest artists and tickets.

Read on for 5 cool facts about Vancouver Folk Music Festival history.

1. Folk Fest was founded by the artistic director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Mitch Podolak came here in the 1970s in order to escape Winnipeg’s mosquito-filled summers and frigid winters. He basically set out to recreate his hometown success. Without Winnipeg’s support, the first Folk Fest might have proven impossible. Loyal volunteers from Winnipeg Folk Festival drove down to pitch in at Vancouver Folk Fest on opening night in 1978.

2. The first Folk Fest was in Stanley Park.

It required a lot of convincing to get the Park Board to agree to the use of Jericho Beach Park for the second and subsequent festivals. Managing the site to minimize disturbance for the neighbourhood, the wildlife and the environment, has been critical to the continued success of the Festival. Managing the political process has been no mean feat either. “It seemed like every year,” says Gary Cristall, “We’d go to Park Board and come out of there with a 4-3 vote in our favour. One vote going the other way, and the whole thing would have been over.”

3. Jericho Beach, where Folk Fest takes place, was a First Nations fishing village called Ee’yullmough.

To honour the history of Jericho Beach, Folk Fest opens June 18 at 4:50pm with traditional Musqueam greetings. 11 First Nations grandmothers wearing hand-woven cedar bark capes will preside over the ceremony. Ferron, an influential poet, writers and performers of women’s music, will join the grandmothers. It has been Ferron’s dream to publicly honour and recognize her status as a First Nations woman; her dream will come full circle as she takes the stage in her two-spirit robe. Together they will sing a couple songs, accompanied by singers and drummers performing on the Haida Gwaii box drum, the taiko drum, and hand drums.


4. Pete the Seagull has been the Folk Fest mascot for the entire 36 years.

Emblematic of the Festival’s beachside setting, Pete and his banjo have represented Folk Fest since the beginning. His name is a tribute to real-life folk music legend Pete Seeger, as is his choice of instrument (the banjo is Seeger’s signature, and his book “How to Play the Five-String Banjo” is considered a classic reference.)

5. The world’s best folk musicians fly here to participate in this Vancouver summer tradition.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival has attracted traditional and contemporary folk, world and roots music artists from all over the world and from all walks of life.  Ani Difranco, Utah Phillips, Feist, K’naan, Gillian Welch, Josh Ritter, Aimee Mann, Joan Baez, Andrew Bird and Ferron are just a few big names that have performed among a talented line up over the years.

Last modified: July 12, 2018

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