Guest Blog: Connect, escape & explore
By Maurice Thibodeau co-founder I AM Festival
I love festivals. I've been to festivals around North America, including some of the most notorious cultural shaping events of our era, like Burning Man and the Further Future. For me, what a festival can represent, is an opportunity to connect, escape, and explore some of the things that make us human. What I mean by this is: in society today, so many of us are so distracted by life, we seldom are taking enough time to appreciate the people and opportunities in front of us. A festival often represents an opportunity to come and join a community with a shared purpose. Although I live in Manitoba, before last year, I've never attended the Winnipeg Folk Fest that I had heard so much about.
I decided to go all-in by doing the full weekend camping experience, as well as by joining the extensive volunteer team. I am proud to say that our province did not disappoint. The quality of the music and the authenticity of the community were my two biggest highlights.
For music, the impeccable sound, the diverse and amazing talent, and the soul shared on the stages made it a captivating scene. I learned the Folk Fest isn't a music festival that sees the need collide the music with fancy lights or expensive multimedia displays. Not that I'm against that, but there was something authentically beautiful about the presence and the soul of the performers being enough to capture its audiences.
The authenticity of the stage spilled out into the diverse crowd where I saw grandma and grandpas, young couples, families, teenagers, hippies, and trendsetters all sharing the experience in their own ways. Some people choose to dance like no one was watching, others sat under the coverage of maple trees as they rested in the hammocks, while the vast majority took their place in front of the open stages where expansive sections of green grass invited them to get settled.
In the camping community, whether you were a good timer or an old timer, there is enough space to find the experience you were looking for. The rhythmic sounds from the drum circle on Pope's Hill went from dusk 'til dawn, followed by the 7:00 AM yoga circle for those that were either still going or just awakening to meet the day. The people were diverse and happy to have the freedom to be themselves.
The volunteer experience was rewarding. The appreciation from the entire community for anyone wearing a volunteer shirt was empowering. The food was outstanding and the teams were well organized.
So I conclude by saying, I will be back and I am buying my parents weekend passes for 2017. Mostly, I'd like to say thank to the organizing parties, past and present, for keeping this Manitoba gem going long enough for latecomers like me to experience it.
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