In Minneapolis, a friend and I arrive on a Thursday night from a trip in the Rockies. We get up a 3:30 a.m. on Friday to drive up with 20 other people to a big folk festival in Winnipeg, Canada. The festival is much bigger than the Florida Folk Fest, with better entertainers. What is originally conceived in 1974 as a one-time event to celebrate Winnipeg’s Centenary and to present Folk music to local audiences, has grown to be an internationally acclaimed music event. The Festival is now the largest event of its kind in North America and one of the main summer cultural attractions of the province of Manitoba. My favorites at the festival I attend are the Barenaked Ladies (very funny and eclectic—banned from Toronto because of their name!! I later see them in 1996 at the Boulder Kinetic Sculpture Race), Sundogs (great party band), Four Men and a Dog (great dance band), Ani Difranco (a young feminist from Buffalo with a unique voice and acoustic guitar style), Richard Thompson (perhaps the most talented guitarist I’ve ever seen—his 6-string guitar sounds like a 12-string), Loreena McKennitt (very soothing music from Canada), The Oyster Band (great cajun dance music), John McCutcheon (great folk musician I saw in Gainesville recently!), and a quartet of excellent blues artists. The food is very diverse and tasty. The low points are the cold night temperatures (about 38 degrees out at the mainstage at 1 a.m.), the fact that I forget my tent poles in Minneapolis, the muddiness of the viewing areas for some of the stages, and the lack of sufficient dancing opportunities (although we have great fun dancing in the aisles to Four Men and a Dog).
Our group to the festival is great fun. They are part of a state group called The Rovers, who do group trips for camping, canoeing, hiking, etc. Its a good way to meet interesting people with similar interests, and helps you enjoy a fun vacation without having to bother much with food, accommodations, driving, or trip planning. I need to start such a group!