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There is a 47 year-old music festival that is exactly what you think of when you think of those perfect summery idyllic music festivals. Being organized by a non-profit group, this festival is void of massive commercial interest, fashion bloggers, and beer lines, and features an abundance of delicious food trucks and cool shady groves of trees to take refuge under when the sun won’t quit. It’s called the Regina Folk Festival, held August 5th to 7th, and before I went, I had never even heard of it.
First held indoors in 1969 at the University of Saskatchewan, the festival has since moved to Regina’s downtown Victoria Park where festival-goers stand and sit beneath sunsets and starlight. This year, the festival atmosphere was helped along by cheap local beer, cool breezes, and a molasses like sunset that transitioned into a mellow northern lights show.
Even if you’re not the type to support community or incredible local events, or perhaps don’t have the budget for the affordable $114 ticket full-festival ticket, there is plenty of park space where people were able to hang out for free. If you decide to do this, you won’t be able to see the main stage at all, but you can hear everything pretty well. With that being said, you’re going to miss out on the whole “live audience” thing, and given what’s going on inside the stage grounds, you’ll essentially be hanging around outside the gates of heaven.
The festival is renowned for pulling some of the bigger folk acts to Regina. In years past Blue Rodeo, Feist, Steve Earle, and Bruce Cockburn have played sets on the main stage. This year, the three day festival saw the likes of The Head And The Heart, Sam Roberts Band, The Barr Brothers, Matt Epp, Bobby Banzini, The Strumbellas and more. No band disappointed, with each playing rousing sets of everything from shout-along anthems to gentle acoustic ballads. And despite having little in common with one another musically, the music flowed nicely and was well received by the crowd.
Turns out, if you’re looking for some sort of free-spirit Nirvana, you don’t have to travel to coastal B.C. The real thing is in Regina, Saskatchewan at the Regina Folk Fest, which just may be Canada’s last true Folk Festival.