Demand for camping hits new high at Winnipeg Folk Festival

Organizers of the Winnipeg Folk Festival say this year’s incarnation saw a handful of new records set. 

Organizers say cumulative attendance reached 76,000, including volunteers

Thousands of folkies fill blankets, tarps and folding chairs in front of the main stage Thursday evening at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, which ran from July 11-14, 2019. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

Organizers of the Winnipeg Folk Festival say this year's incarnation saw a handful of records set. 

Demand for camping spots at the festival's Birds Hill Park location climbed to a new high, said Lynne Skromeda, its executive director.

The main campground of 7,000 spots sold out three weeks earlier than it did in 2018 and the "quiet campground" of 1,200 spots sold out for the first time ever, she said.

The festival said in a press release that over four days, the festival enjoyed a cumulative attendance of 76,000 visits, including from volunteers who do not pay to attend the event.

That works out to an average daily attendance this year of 19,000 people, including volunteers.

In 2018, the cumulative attendance was about 73,000, or 18,250 people per day.

Folk-festers, volunteers and artists dealt with a mixed bag of summer weather, including a drenching of rain Sunday morning, but Skromeda said it had virtually no impact.
Blue skies shifted to dark grey as storm clouds rolled in Thursday evening at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. The mainstage show was later delayed for 30 minutes due to a tornado watch. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

A tornado watch issued Thursday night saw the headlining show by alt-rockers Death Cab for Cutie delayed by 30 minutes, but the watch didn't escalate into anything, she said.

Skromeda called the band "real champions."

"They weathered through and then came back and played their full set," she said.

That brief hit by Mother Nature was the only real trouble as Skromeda noted there were no major incidents requiring police intervention.

A ban on marijuana in the wake of last year's legalization of the drug had no effect at all, she said, as consuming it has always been prohibited in Manitoba provincial parks.

RCMP "decided to use their discretion" and not make an issue of it, she said.

Planning has already begun for Folk Fest 2020, with offers going out to some artists, she said.


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