Folk art – Folk festival

I think it was 1986 when I first went to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. I went with my high school sweetheart, Danny. The festival was young, and so were we.

After that it was over a decade until I went again. Not because I didn’t love the festival and the music, but because it took years until I found my way back to the kind of people who shared my love of this music.

up the hill

I first went back with a woman I met while working for the Alberta Media Production Industries Association. I joined her for a few years but didn’t set down my own roots –

I blocked out the plan on the tarp.
I blocked out the plan on the tarp.

folk festers call this tarp squatting because the hill is lined with tarps

East is a cyclops all-seeing sun.
East is a cyclops all-seeing sun.

that people put down to reserve their seating in front of the main stage.

A few years later it was one of my most cherished friends from yet another workplace that I tagged along with. Not only did Lisa give me a seat on a tarp – and this is important because the tarp is the folk fest family home and the whole reason I am writing this blog – but her friends embraced me.

West is reaching tree branches.
West is reaching tree branches.

I don’t ‘tarp-squat’ anymore. I feel like a fully fledged member of a folk fest family.

South is Alberta fields of wheat.
South is Alberta fields of wheat.

Three years ago I decided I needed to find a way to make how I feel about this festival and these people into a piece of folk art. I knew it had to involve a tarp.

I finished the project last fall, and two days ago my husband sprayed it with waterproofing to make it weather resistant. It was a labour of love from start to finish.

NORTH old man winter sketch.
NORTH old man winter sketch.

I began by sewing the tarp to the official festival tarp specifications, and only then laid out the positive and negative space.

Next I sketched some ideas on paper. I then transferred the ideas onto the tarp in pencil, and inked over the outlines. Getting the lines dark enough took three coats. Then I inked in the colours on each of the images, finishing with the background.

In each corner is one of the Four Strong
Winds
– significant because this is the song everyone on the hill sings  in unison, candles in hand, on the last night of the festival.

Below is the finished product hanging the beautiful Edmonton sunshine between two spruce trees in my yard.

blowing in the wind

On the last two days of Folk Fest this tarp will be our home base. If it holds up well, and the whole folk fest family likes it, I’ll bring it back next year.

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