Winnipeg Folk Festival starts hot, ends wet, scores low attendance

The 41st edition of the Winnipeg Folk Festival wrapped up with nearly 13,000 fewer people than in 2013.
Festival-goers take cover in the children's tent as a storm hits on Saturday afternoon. (Bridget Forbes/CBC)

The 41st edition of the Winnipeg Folk Festival wrapped up with nearly 13,000 fewer people than in 2013.

A total of 44,222 fans gathered at Birds Hill Park between July 9 and 13, taking in acts like Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez.

And even though the weather was stormy at times, it didn't dampen spirits.

"It's great. You know it's a little adversity — just makes things more memorable," said Kathy Lawrow, who came to Winnipeg from Minneapolis and sat through the heat at the start of the festival and the rain and wind, which brought it to a close on Saturday and Sunday.

It did dampen attendance, however.

The fest's executive director Lynne Skromeda had expected the total attendance to be around the 54,000 mark the event had in 2012. Last year, the festival drew a total of 57,034 people.

“We're definitely lower than last year but we were expecting that because last year was an anniversary year [in 2013]," she said.

"It was a really big year for us and we had a lot of very popular folk artists coming in, whereas this year it was a little bit more of a discovery year.”

A "discovery year" because there were more artists who were new to the event this year, she said.

"[There were] actually acts here from six different continents this year. So there's some great world music," Skromeda said.

"It's just really fun and people [were] walking away going, "wow, I never heard of them before but man, they're amazing.' And that's exactly the kind of thing we wanted to do."

Attendance by the day:

  • 7,904 Wednesday
  • 8,074 Thursday
  • 9,012 Friday
  • 9,681 Saturday
  • 8,551 Sunday