Mother Nature proved to be the most difficult hurdle for this year’s Edmonton Folk Music Festival, with a fairly drastic shift in conditions from Friday to Sunday.
Festival producer Terry Wickham said the weather led to a few issues at the Gallagher Park site, but overall the music fest was a success.
“We started off with great weather and of course we ended with rain and we had smoke in between. So it’s kind of like James Taylor’s song ‘I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.’ Well, we saw smoke and we saw rain,” he said.
“There was a good hearty crowd here yesterday [Sunday] but we probably took about an inch of rain. In fact, we haven’t had as bad a day of weather since 1994.
“It’s nothing that we can’t, excuse the pun, weather.”
Wickham said the wet weather caused some of the surfaces to get quite slippery. While the stages, beer tent and kitchen floors were okay, he said walking from stage to stage was a bit difficult.
“The only thing we’ve been struggling with for a lot of years is: How do we fix the walkways when it’s really wet?” he said.
“If you don’t feel like going from stage to stage, that’s not good. So we’re looking for solutions. Some of them might be as simple as more sand or sodding. There’s some infrastructure that needs to go in, we’ve had a drainage problem we’ve had behind our main stage for years. And it may be buying certain kinds of matting that will help us navigate.”
Sand is also put down to try to increase traction, but eventually, the amount of rain that fell on Sunday overwhelmed the sand, Wickham explained.
“If you put too much sand down then it gets to be a quagmire — it’s just like a big mucky mess and no one can get a golf cart through it. It’s kind of a fine-tuning, but there’s got to be a solution in this day and age. We’re not the first festival to take a lot of rain.”
Overall, Wickham said the attendance was good, despite being about 10 to 15 per cent below their peak numbers a few years ago. Wickham said the festival’s box office is staying about the same because fewer people are buying four-day passes and instead, buying one-day passes.
Watch below: The 2018 Edmonton Folk Music Festival is now underway with thousands of people heading to the event to take in dozens of acts. (Filed Friday, Aug. 10).
As staff and volunteers continued the clean-up efforts on Monday, organizers were already looking forward to next year’s festival when they mark the 40th anniversary.
Wickham said next summer’s folk fest will be a bit more nostalgic and they’ll likely invite back some performers with specific connections to Edmonton.
Next summer’s folk fest will also be the first following Canada’s legalization of marijuana. While the city still has some work to do in terms of regulating pot, Wickham said they don’t anticipate much will change at the festival site.
“I kind of think what people have been doing surreptitiously they’ll be able to do openly. We’ll treat it like cigarettes, like alcohol, there will be areas to smoke,” he said.
“Fortunately, we’ll be able to follow a lot of other festivals and see what works and what doesn’t work. I don’t think it’s going to be a huge change in the culture… We’ll be ready, that’s for sure.”
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