Sunday, July 19, 2009

3 Days in the Park

There are so many words and so many images to share with you about the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, that I’ll break this post up over the next couple of days.

The Folk Festival is a truly amazing and rare event. First of all, it’s pretty hard to beat the setting: nestled in the heart of Jericho Park with beaches and mountains lining the north. There’s a peek-a-boo view of the city skyline to the north east and a wee pond hugs the south side.

The focal point of the park is the evening main stage and one of the highlights is watching the morning “Birkenstock 500” in which the hounds er – audiences are released into the park to claim a square of turf on which to  toss their blanket for the evening concert. The powers that be tried to discourage the Birkenstock 500 from happening. So apparently, it all started politely as people left the gate, walking quickly until the end when people couldn’t contain themselves and busted loose – it’s quite amazing  to watch the flurry of tarps being unfurled.

The festival is dotted with music tents that host multiple daytime “workshops”.  From my vantage point as I type this, I’m faced with a kind of musical buffet. I can hear a little blues coming at me from Stage 4, a little folk from stage 5, a bit of harp from stage 7…. It’s kind of like being caught between the chicken balls and the beef and broccoli at the all-you-can eat smorgasbord, and it is completely enchanting.

The best thing about the festival is in the bizarre mix of people who flock through the gates to hear the music, eat the food, lounge in the sun and do a little flow dancing on the sidelines. From old to young, hip to awkward, queer to straight, lefty to righty (and probably a bunch of innies and outies too): all of these people meet in the park for a weekend away from the grind. Last night I sat with my friend Lara who had set up her blanket next to a very straight lookin’ guy who was a funeral director. He generously shared his program with us, and guarded our stuff when we sent in search of a pina colada smoothie (and yes, we found it and wasn’t it just the tastiest thing ever?)  And in the real world, we probably wouldn’t have exchanged more than 2 words with each other – but there we were on a blanket in the park chatting, and looking out for one another.

Cuz the amazing thing about the folk music festival – the real magic about it all is this: for one weekend a year, everybody agrees to get along: instead of teetering on opposite sides of the great divide, we all just suck it up and warmly greet one another, and maybe even really CARE about one other for this brief moment in time. It may be one of the only places in an urban environment where a lost wallet full of cash will get turned into lost and found, and where a queer elementary school teacher and a funeral director can become buds for a couple of hours.

And for this experience, I am grateful, because at the end of the day I am left holding a little cup of kindness and hope.....


  1. You hit the nail on the head, T1!

    lovely to see you & mr man this weekend, will be posting on the fest as well soon...soon!

  2. I look forward to seeing your post!! And it was lovely to see you too.....

  3. i love the photo of the blanket being unfurled! it's like a giant superhero cape.

    Tony was a funeral director?

  4. See - you even know his NAME!!!! I'm telling you, it's all part of the folk fest foo!

  5. I love this! Great photos and lovely writing, lady. :)

  6. Thanks! It's only cuz I had such great and willing photo subjects!