News / Calgary

Flood fails to fold up Calgary Folk Festival

There wasn’t much Kerry Clarke could do but watch as last month’s flood waters swallowed up a huge portion of Prince’s Island Park.

The Calgary Folk Music Festival’s artistic director was understandably concerned about how the extensive damage on the island would affect this year’s event, but cautiously optimistic the show would still go on.

“We rode the rollercoaster ride as best we could,” says Clarke.

“It’s been more stressful than usual.”

But after a month of intense work by the City of Calgary’s Parks & Recreation team – as well as a one-day volunteer cleanup that saw 250 people show up – Prince’s Island Park is in decent enough shape to hold the 33rd annual Folk Fest.

Unfortunately, the festival lost two stages on the island, but was able to add a new one in Eau Claire Market.

“There are areas of the park that are a no-go zone and that will change navigating the site,” Clarke explains.

“There have also been some programming changes … We made the family a bit more compact so we don’t have the climbing wall this year and the artisan market is moved to inside Eau Claire Market for this year.”

Clarke says both artists and pass holders have been patient with festival staff as they’ve sorted out the new logistics.

“People kept buying tickets after the flood,” she says. “And we tried to communicate with everyone as best we could.”

The Calgary Folk Music Festival is an annual tradition for many Calgarians and the importance of it going ahead after the flood displaced so many isn’t lost on Clarke.

“I think people are in the mood to get together and get a break from flood woes, so hopefully we provide that,” she says.

“It's always a festival of discovery with amazing music (and comedy) that's very community-based. Calgary has shown itself to be a city where community comes together and supports each other and the festival will be a microcosm of that.”


  • The Calgary Folk Music Festival kicks off Thursday and runs until Sunday at Prince’s Island Park. For lineup information and up-to-date news, go to
  • This year’s headliners include Creedence Clearwater Revisited, World Party, Steve Earle, M. Ward, Alabama Shakes, Kurt Vile and Thievery Corporation.

Five Calgary Folk Festival acts you can't miss:

Compiled by Lisa Wilton for Metro

The Calgary Folk Music Festival mainstage schedule is stacked with fantastic acts, but there are plenty of other artists worth checking out on the site’s smaller stages. Here are five must-see Folk Fest acts:

Hayes Carll

Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Stage 4

This sharp-shooting singer and songwriter from Austin, Texas has won over many fans during previous visits to Calgary, including 2009’s Folk Fest. His witty between-song banter and conservative-baiting songs such as She Left Me For Jesus are just a few reasons why Carll is a favourite of critics, fellow musicians and open-minded country music fans.

Minor Empire

Friday at 3 p.m., Stage 5

Formed in 2010, the Toronto-based world fusion band has already become a big name in the genre. Last year, the septet won a Canadian Folk Music Award for World Group of the Year for its debut album, Second Nature, which blends traditional Turkish melodies, jazz and electronica. Dancing is encouraged, and pretty much unavoidable, during their energetic live shows.

Wool On Wolves

Sunday at 11:55 a.m., Stage 3

Edmonton’s Wool On Wolves have been slowly but surely rising up the ranks of Canada’s independent music scene. The folk rock band writes complex, richly orchestrated songs, while making sure not to bury the melody. One of Alberta’s best up ‘n’ coming bands.

Grant-Lee Phillips

Sunday at 2:20 p.m., Stage 3

The mesmerizing voice behind ‘90s college favourites Grant Lee Buffalo – which enjoyed a few minor alternative radio hits, including Fuzzy, Mockingbirds and Homespun - Phillips has released several good solo albums since GLB disbanded in 1999. It’s bad enough he’s not widely recognized as a great songwriter, but absolutely criminal he’s not better known as a vocalist considering he’s one of the finest folk rock singers of the past 20 years.

Doug Mutai

Saturday at 12 p.m, Apache Talk Tent

The Apache Talk Tent was a big hit when it premiered at last year’s festival. And Calgary stand-up Doug Mutai’s set should attract a packed tent. The comic is considered one of the city’s best young stand-up talents and recently performed at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Best of the Fest gala.

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