The 41st annual Winnipeg Folk Fest takes place July 9-13, 2014, so we can look forward to Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, Deep Dark Woods, Corb Lund, Ani DiFranco, John Hammond, plus the food, camping, friends and fun.

But just because the festival is in its forties doesn't mean it's slowing down. Like everything else on earth, the Folk Fest grows and changes every year.​

Here's what's new for the 2014 edition of the festival:

  • Kids are free! Yes, children 12 and under have free admission when accompanied by an adult.
  • More water taps to refill your own water bottles. Note: no bottled water will be sold as part of the festival's environmental initiative. But if you forget to bring your own bottle, retro mugs will be available for $3.00.
  • More food vendors. Patrons have been demanding more healthy options, so this year the festival chose food vendors based on the LOFT (local, organic, fair trade) principle. Look for Grassfed Grill, Corrientes, Chocolatier Constance Popp, and at festival camping, The Red Ember wood-fired pizza truck. 
  • Diversity Foods from the University of Winnipeg, under the direction of Chef Ben Kramer, is taking over backstage eats for performers, staff and volunteers. They're also setting up a stall on site for the general public.
  •  New parking procedures are in place to speed up the exit for patrons at the end of the night. The parking lot will be divided into two lots – east lot and west lot. Those entering and exiting the park via the East Gate off Hwy 206 will park in the east lot and those entering and exiting the West Gate off Hwy 59 will park in the west lot. 
  • Bugs. Okay, mosquitoes are not new, but because of the recent heavy rainfall, they will be more numerous and tenacious than in recent years. The large buffer zone around Bird's Hill Park means there will be no fogging, so it's up to you to protect yourself with repellent and long pants and long sleeves in the evening.
    Stage in the forest, Winnipeg Folk Festival

    Two new stages in the woods were added in 2013 (Robert Tinker)

Executive director Lynne Skromeda says the heavy rains also set crews back as they set up the festival site. Certain areas were soggier than usual and they even had to set up plywood highways to allow the fork lifts in to raise the stages.

She's optimistic that the balmy weather forecast for the next few days will dry up the grounds in time for the arrival of the throngs of festival goers.

"I have to be positive, I have to be optimistic," she said.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival runs July 9 - 13 at Bird's Hill Park.