Ten ways to folk out

Photos by Eric West.

Yes, it’s happening again. No, I’m not talking about the span worm takeover. It’s time for the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival. In its 33rd year, the festival is a staple attraction each summer. I’ve compiled here a list of the best ways for you to get the most out of this year’s festivities.

By Sharleen Simmons.

Admire the local legends
Sure, you may see them around town, but how often do you get to actually show your appreciation for our local folk legends, like accordion master Art Stoyles or fiddler extraordinaire Kelly Russell? Sit back and watch the experts in their element.

Discover what a bouzouki is
Well, it’s not a weapon or a brand of gum. Many different instruments have found their way into our culture. Get introduced to them all by some master players, in the Instrumental Tent. That’s why it’s called that.

Strike up a conversation with a CFA
They’re a common sight in town this time of year, and unlike moose on the highway, you can usually spot them from a mile away. So, if you come across one, introduce yourself, give directions, or share a piece of trivia from the Rock.

Support new folkies
One of the best parts of the Folk Festival is that the youth aren’t limited to the face painting tent—they have their own stage. The Neil Murray Stage is devoted to young performers, but don’t let their age fool you. These acts may be young, but they sure are fantastic musicians.

Wear sunblock. Bring an umbrella.
There’s nothing better than listening to some great music in the sun. But, as we all know, the weather in Newfoundland can be unpredictable, and the Folk Festival weekend is no exception. So pray for sun, but be ready for rain. Don’t let the weather stop you from having a time. It didn’t stop Woodstock.

Discover a piece of history
Not every Newfoundland and Labrador tradition is set to music. The Oral Traditions tent offers folklore storytelling at its best. Learn a piece of history from our province, told by the best, and then pass it on.

Run into someone you’ve been avoiding—and buy them a drink
There are always familiar faces at Bannerman Park- some you’re glad to see, maybe others you’re not. Either way, make the best of it and share in the good times and great music together!

Have a scuff
What is Newfoundland tradition without dancing? Come by Saturday and Sunday morning to learn a variety of traditional dance moves from some fantastic instructors.

No event is possible without dedicated volunteers. So, if you really want to be part of the action, and an important part of the Festival team, contact the Folk Arts Council and offer to help out!

Join a kitchen party
What I love most about the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival is that it’s not just an event to observe—you’re encouraged to participate. Local musicians are ready to lead you in some amazing open jam sessions. Think you’re not musically inclined? Grab a set of spoons or an ugly stick. Anyone, at any skill level can join in. Just be sure to play it loud and have fun!

The 33rd annual NL Folk Festival will take place in Bannerman Park, St. John’s, from August 7-9, 2009. For more details, or to purchase advance tickets visit www.nlfolk.com.