Five Lessons Learned at Folly Fest 2015

Category: community 1,925

Popular summer festival wraps up for another year.

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Photo: Matt Carter

For seven years now, Feels Good Folly Fest’s dedicated team of volunteer organizers have been working hard to create and maintain a welcoming weekend event that brings together all walks of life for a collective celebration of music, art and community.

This past weekend saw individuals, couples and entire families make the pilgrimage to the historic Village of Gagetown for what has become an annual (and perpetually entertaining) highlight on the New Brunswick summer events calendar.

“This year was awesome, the best one yet,” said Mike Humble, who has been a tireless member of the festival’s organizing committee since day one, balancing everything from programming the dozens of musical acts to managing the festival grounds and onsite facilities with fellow organisers Paul McAllister, Jon Dennis, Courtney Steeves and several friends and members of the Feels Good art collective.

“The volunteers were really good this year,” he said.  “They helped us out a lot.  My biggest stress on the Wednesday before the festival was just keeping everyone working.  We’d assign jobs and they’d get them done quickly. We had a good crew involved.”

The 2015 festival brought in acts from across North America including renowned New Orleans funk act, Dumpstafunk, electronic music duo The Floozies from Kansas and Alabama bluegrass sensations, Iron Horse.  In total, nearly 60 performing acts, including several musicians from New Brunswick and the surrounding provinces, all made their way to the Gagetown Fair Grounds for the event.

Here are five lessons learned at Folly Fest 2015:

We’re All Dirty Hippies

A lot of summer music festivals get lumped into the same heap, attracting shirtless, long-haired nomads, who come to camp in a sea of colourful tents to party all night and dance away their troubles.  But beneath the patchwork clothing, the tie-dyed shirts and the oversized sunglasses are people from all walks of life.  Sure there are hippies, or at least the modern day ambassadors of a moment that helped spark radical social change in the late sixties, complete with hula hoops and VW vans, but right alongside these folks are paramedics, soldiers, cooks, systems analysts, teachers, farmers, carpenters and even the nurses who monitor the health of our loved ones when they need it the most – all just as unwashed and carefree as everyone else.

We All Deserve a Break

_MG_6527There is a popular misconception that associates outdoor music festivals with a particular demographic but in reality, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Everyone likes to let loose or better yet, everyone needs to let loose at times.  And for hundreds of East Coast music lovers, Feels Good Folly Fest has become just the place to satisfy their collective need to laugh, dance and enjoy the company of a population in need of a well-deserved break. Folly exceeds needs and expectations in this regard. Nice work, Folly!

Historical Parallels 

The festival grounds have been home to the Queen’s County Fair for over 70 years and although Folly is a relative newcomer to the area, the important cultural role it plays is no less significant.  When you consider the fact that most small town festivals are in some way designed to celebrate our unique cultures and keep them alive for the benefit of future generations, Folly is a lot like the county fair. But instead of antique tractor displays, pony-pulls and draft horse competitions, Folly brings fire juggling, live painting displays and their own brand of arts and crafts which include glass blowers and jewelry makers.

And the festival grounds are perfect for…well, hosting festivals.

“It’s an amazing spot and all the infrastructure there is just ridiculous,” said Humble.  “The buildings, the grandstand, washrooms, showers. It’s just incredible.  They even have five deep freezes and we use them all.”

Small Town Charm Wins Every Time

“I was worried The Floozies weren’t going to like us,” said Humble, considering the previous stages the group has performed on which include Colorado’s famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Brooklyn Bowl in New York City.  “We put them up the first night in a local Bed and Breakfast and had booked them a hotel for the next night.  After the first night they asked us to cancel the hotel because they wanted to stay in the village.”

Even the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion took part in the event, serving breakfast all weekend in support of their own fundraising efforts.  Their Folly Fest proved popular with the both festival patrons and locals alike.  Upon scanning the tables full of tired and hungry festival attendees, one local senior was overheard to say, “I’d invite any of these folks into my kitchen for tea,” and a member of legion called the event, “cleaner than bingo night.”

Folly's Head of Security Lee Breen.
Folly’s Head of Security Lee Breen.

It’s Worth the Distance Traveled 

Sometimes it’s just nice to get out of the city and spend the weekend in the country. It’s hard to argue logic like that. While the majority of Folly’s audience travel from communities throughout the Maritimes to sleep in a field, there are some folks who travel across countries and continents.  In some cases, The Folly Effect represents an undeniable pull.

“We have a friend from New Zealand currently living in Germany,” said Humble. “Someone gave her a bunch of Air Miles and instead of traveling home for a visit, she came to Folly. She arrived on Tuesday and flew back to Germany on Monday. To have created something that brings in people who normally wouldn’t even be in the country is something really special.”

Only 358 more days until next year’s event.

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