It's a highlight of every summer for my family, and this year's Ottawa Folk Festival was no exception (although we did miss S. a lot. He's staying with his Grandma and going to comedy camp. He says they spend their days doing improv routines and watching highlights from Saturday Night Live. The kid is in heaven). And this year, despite forecasts to the contrary (and some really nasty looking storm clouds) the weather was perfect.
I think I kept the rain away through sheer force of will.
This is Vishtèn, a group we really liked from PEI and the Magdalen Islands. Other highlights for me included James Keelaghan, the Good Lovelies and a workshop called Outstanding In Their Field that featured Digging Roots (excellent musicians, great voices, hard rocking native musicians), the Arrogant Worms, Charlotte Cornfield, Tall Trees (the teenage winners of this year's "rising stars" award. I was really charmed by them) and Stewed Roots. I also think I might have fallen in love with Victoria Vox and her ukelele.
My spouse and I both loved James Hill and Anne Davidson.
Every folk festival has moments of magic. T. (whose personal highlights were a lot like mine), D. and I all agree that those moments this year came courtesy of the Common Ground Cross-Cultural Collaboration (couldn't find a link to explain this amazing process of bringing together artists from all over North America and throwing them together to make music):
"When the artists are having fun it is infectious. Our final daytime show ended with the whole group getting off the stage and leading the audience dancing around the room. One of those special festival moments."
On Saturday afternoon, my sister and brother-in-law collected D. so that T. and I could enjoy some child free time and take in some music without being subject to the (sometimes tyrannical) whims of our youngest child. That night, we stayed to the very end (although, I did take in Bruce Cockburn while lying down with my eyes closed. It was nice).
Attending the Folk Festival with a six year old is a different experience. You don't always get to choose what concerts you attend and you can never be sure if you will hear a full set.
But I got to sit in the shade with my son between my legs. I listened to music and watched his face as he read to himself (hooray for reading!).
I balanced him on my knees and we listened to music together.
And we all danced our hearts out.
While it was frustrating to miss out on some workshops I wanted to hear (like Songs From The Road, featuring Bruce Cockburn, Steven Page and Joel Plaskett), I got to do and see some things I might have missed entirely.
We spent more than an hour building a model of a cob house.
We watched some folks learning to dance the Charleston.
D. painted his name in Japanese characters and made an origami flower.
And we did all this without setting foot in the kids' tent.
Going to the Folk Festival with a six year old is exhausting but I don't resent it for a moment (although I would probably feel differently if we hadn't had the break on Saturday).
And the thing is, I think that these are the memories that will stay with me.
And it wouldn't be the FolkFest if I didn't spend some time knitting in public.
I didn't even mind when, at around 5:00 on Sunday, D. announced that he wanted to leave. It would have been great to stay and hear the evening concert but going to St-Hubert for dinner was special in its own way.
"This is such a great feast!", D. announced. It was a great end to a wonderful week end.
(You can see the full list of FolkFest artists here).