Home Feature How the Edmonton Folk Fest feeds 3,000 and other tales of hospitality

How the Edmonton Folk Fest feeds 3,000 and other tales of hospitality


Every year in Edmonton, approximately 65 performers gather for one of the world’s best folk music festivals. With that many performers, it takes a lot of time and careful planning to make sure they’re well taken care of – along with the hundreds of volunteers and staff!   

As soon as negotiations to book the artists begin, the hammering out of the legal and technical details starts too. Each performer’s agent or representative typically sends a contract that includes a so-called hospitality rider or a list of the performers’ requests in terms of food, accommodation, and other, sometimes more novel, comforts. The producer of The Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Terry Wickham, carefully reads each and every one of these, he said; they’re sometimes six or seven pages long. He returns the pages with “X” marks on them whittling those six or seven pages down to a bare minimum. It’s not a rock concert but a folk festival, so no all-red M&Ms provided, he said. What the performers get is much better. They get to experience one of the world’s top folk music festivals and all its aspects.

The EFMF takes care of costs for hotel accommodations, transport to and from the site, and all technical materials and technicians, Terry said. Meals are provided at the site for all the performers, their crew and the volunteers. That means feeding over 3,000 people each day, and every meal is planned ahead taking into consideration food allergies, dietary restrictions, and the need for pork-free and vegetarian options.

Just like hockey players don’t shave during the playoffs, some performers have traditions or rituals. Maybe they do something before or after a set, such as a shot of Tequilla, which would be on hand.  You just don’t mess around when it comes to someone’s traditions or rituals, Terry said.

After all the organizing and planning, the day finally arrives, and The Edmonton Folk Music Festival begins. That’s when the magic starts for performers and folk music fans alike. From the time of their arrival in Edmonton and until the day they leave, all performers are placed in the care of EFMF’s family.  Performers flying into Edmonton are greeted by one of the amazing volunteers, who drive everyone to the doors of the hotel. If performers arrive via different modes of transportation they are greeted at the hotel, again, by amazing volunteers.  

The time prior to and after their performances is time for the performers to do as they please. Some might take in Edmonton and all it has to offer or relax in their hotel rooms. Many enjoy being on site taking in the music of other performers or having adult beverages in the beer tents. That’s where they stop being performers and become one of the many folk music fans. 

The Edmonton Folk Festival organizers and its amazing staff and volunteers have earned the festival a reputation as a performer favourite.

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival is taking place from Aug. 9 to 12 at Gallagher Park, and all information on the festival can be found on its website at www.edmontonfolkfest.org


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