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40th anniversary of Codroy Valley Folk Festival

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

CODROY VALLEY – The Codroy Valley Folk Festival 2022, is taking place on July 30 and 31 in Upper Ferry at the recreation complex, and this year holds special significance because it marks the 40th anniversary of the popular festival, which was first introduced in 1982.

Chantelle MacIsaac, who is on the Codroy Valley Folk Festival committee, said it started as a few local musicians that decided to get together and play some tunes, and has evolved into a three-day festival.

“It was called the Folk Festival because we like to try and stay to folk art and roots. We have the Makers and Gardeners Market joining us this year and they have fourteen or fifteen different vendors and it’s all homemade items. It could be homemade jewelry, soaps, shampoo, food, you name it,” said MacIsaac.

While the Folk Festival always provided space for vendors to sell their wares, this year, teaming up with the Makers and Gardeners Market, an event that takes place quarterly, adds a whole new aspect.

“What we are going to be doing moving forward is every year at the Folk Festival, we are going to be hosting the Makers and Gardeners Market there as well. We are teaming up with them this year doing a double-drawing card. A lot of people are interested in the Makers and Gardeners Market and a lot of people are interested in the Folk Festival, so we are teaming up to see how it goes this year.”

MacIsaac said it is truly a group effort to get the Folk Festival organized each year.

“There’s eight or nine of us on the committee, but then outside of that it’s dozens more volunteers as well. There’s a lot involved with the setup. Throughout the festival there’s volunteers for the ticket booths, for the canteen. We have kids’ day events that are all run by volunteers on Sunday. The whole entire thing, it really is a collection of community members that get together to make this festival happen.”

Since COVID is still prevalent across the province, the decision was made to shorten the festival for this year.

“We weren’t sure how things were going to go with volunteers, with (there) being COVID and some people are still really nervous about things, so we’ve gone back to two days, but the festival here is a lot of local entertainers, singers, songwriters, musicians, and we try and plug them in throughout the day,” said MacIsaac. “They play a lot of their own original music and some covers, and in the evenings, nighttime, we have a dance. This year we have the Jack Daniels Band playing on Saturday night, so that turns into an adult-only time.”

After not being able to enjoy the festival for a couple of years during the height of the pandemic, people are happy the festival is returning.

“We’re really excited to be bringing the festival back. It’s been a long couple of years without the festival. I think it’s something people have come to, not just enjoy, but a lot of people wrap their vacation time home around the Folk Festival because it’s a really great gathering place for locals and even for people from away. We get a lot of tourists who like to come and plan their vacations around the Folk Festival. So we’re really excited to be able to host it this year again and we’re hoping that, even after a couple of years of down time, it’s going to be a successful event, because we know that a lot of people are looking forward to it.”

Even though the Folk Festival 2022 is resuming during Come Home Year, it remains to be seen whether or not that will mean a significant increase in attendees.

“It is Come Home Year and we want people to come home, but we are still mindful of the fact that people are still weary over COVID. COVID is still a very real thing here. We still do have active cases and stuff. We are hopeful that the government’s Come Home Year is going to be a drawing card for us as well,” admitted MacIsaac.

“There are very strong, deep roots here in music. Kitchen parties are always a popular thing, sitting around the fire with your guitar, and it’s been a great way, even for young musicians to start out, to get their first experience on the stage. It’s become a place where people feel, even if they don’t sing in public normally or if they don’t play in public or if they’re not in a band, but they are willing to get up for a few minutes,” said MacIsaac. “There’s always been a strong musical background here in the Codroy Valley, but we also like to highlight and introduce new people as well.”

MacIsaac said that Sunday during the youth hour is great place for anybody and everybody to get involved.

“If you had a son or a daughter who wanted to get up and sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, we welcome that. That’s where, a lot of the up and comers come from, where they are given that first opportunity on the stage. We’ve seen them grow into musicians who now are getting ECMA awards and things like that.”

MacIsaac said the Folk Festival truly belongs to the Codroy Valley.

“It doesn’t belong to a committee or one group of people. It belongs to the Codroy Valley, and you try to incorporate as much and as many people as you can.”

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