A&E » Music

Fortitude and folding chairs

Musical and meterological diversity at the 2nd Annual Pemberton Folk Festival



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"They might confiscate your umbrella at the gate," I warn her.

She looks at me as if I’m deranged.

"They used to do that at the Vancouver Folk Festival. You know, umbrellas in crowded areas regularly cause serious eye injury."

Even as the words leave my lips I realize this sounds bizarre. If "brolly folly" was true, at least 20 per cent of Vancouverites working downtown would be sporting eye patches.

"It’s Pemberton," she states flatly.


Folding chairs and bags slung over our shoulders we head out into the… sun!

12:25 p.m .

We walk through the gate. Number One makes it through with her umbrella intact. She doesn’t say anything, but I detect a certain cockiness in how she casually swings her umbrella as we head to the main stage area.

12:30 p.m.

We settle in under a light mist to watch 10-year-old Squamish fiddle prodigy Joceyln Pettit whip through a set of Celtic tunes. She introduces a suite of songs as, "Four of my favourite tunes that I arranged myself." At an age when most kids have barely mastered "Ode to Joy" on the recorder, Pettit’s creating her own four-part arrangements.

Will she be the next Natalie MacMaster? Or the new Ashley MacIssac? I keep these thoughts to myself. To pose these questions I would have to explain the whole Ashley MacIssac career debacle to Number One and she’d probably think this was just another case of me being "random."

Following Pettit’s incredibly polished half-hour set, emcee Brandon Hestdalen explains that we’re welcome to take a look inside the teepee– "a marvel of aboriginal engineering" –standing at the back of the field. Hestdalen, who lived in the structure with his family for five months last year, has donated the teepee as a portable change room when the space the festival used previously became unavailable.

His passionate pitch for festival food sends me in search of a couple of Tokyo Tom’s California rolls ($2) for Number One and me. It’s my first sample of the fresh, fab fare perfectly priced for the frugal foodie that makes this festival stand out from others.

1:00 p.m

Just as Fargo, a five-piece outfit specializing in Cajun boogie blues, begins to rip up the stage with "Polk Salad Annie" the mist becomes a monsoon. Within seconds the most valuable piece of real estate in Pemberton has been defined – forget the estate lots on the Plateau – it’s the 20 ft x 20 ft tent in front of the centre stage. Between the tent and branches of old growth cedars in Pioneer Park, there’s enough room for everyone who wants to take cover. However, several of the 60 or so brave souls milling around elect not to seek refuge, choosing to huddle under umbrellas, tarps or, in one case, a unique apparatus that is later revealed to be used as a portable treatment room for wilderness medicine.