Alright…so, I spent the better part of the afternoon writing brief accounts of only some of the artists I had the opportunity to hear this past weekend…but, what I failed to capture was the ‘experience’ of the Calgary Folk Festival. I’m not certain that words or photographs can ever bring the experience of heading for ‘the island’ to life. Spending a hot and sunny July weekend with friends and family, chilling, is an experience that warms the heart in all of its corners.
The volunteers are remarkable…the enthusiasm can be felt everywhere. Good food smells permeate the venue! On Saturday, I had a plate of Indian food, a tradition in our family on one of our folk fest days. From Steven Hunt’s
“For more than a decade, the Nagpals, Saroj and husband Ashwani, who operate the India Palace food vendor, have been loading up their trailer and making the drive from Winnipeg to sell their popular butter chicken and other Indian dishes.
It’s the first stop of an India Palace Alberta tour that also includes the Edmonton Folk Festival and that city’s fringe fest.
While the Nagpals spend a large chunk of their summer at hip music festivals, that doesn’t necessarily translate into seeing much of any of them.
For one thing, none of India Palace’s food is prepared ahead of time.
“Everything we have to do (prepare) on the site, and it takes a little bit of time,” says Ashwani.
For the Nagpals, a division of labour helps keep the epic lineups outside their trailer moving steadily. As Saroj supervises serving meals, Ashwani trains and supervises food preparation. “He trains all the chefs and cooks, and then he walks around,” says Saroj.
While there isn’t much opportunity for the Nagpals to hear much music, one year did produce a pleasant surprise: an Indian band.
“They were here from Rajistan, from India,” says Ashwani. “They were playing right in front of our booth when it was the opening ceremony and we just know that because my wife studied in Rajistan.
“We look after them,” he adds, “because when they’re from the same country … and you meet them in a country far away (from home), you feel so good.””
I enjoyed my ritual of a lemonade slushie during the heat of the afternoon and then later, I drank a beer with a former student in the beer gardens, sharing stories and lots of laughs. Much like squatters, my daughters and I spread our tarp on a piece of property and, this year, had only one occasion of racing to cover up our ‘stuff’ because of a quick thunder storm that blew through. The folk festival ‘fashions’, the hula hoops, the beach balls and location markers, two-dollar plate rentals…these are all part of the crazy ambience that IS Calgary Folk Festival. It is a wonderful time!
The C-Train’s rocking movement lulled most of its riders to a quiet hush as we headed south and away from Prince’s Island for another year. Another successful folk fest!