If you are looking for something to sing about the Islands Folk Festival, started in 1985, is back in full swing for their 39th year from July 21 to 23 at Providence Farm in Duncan.
To make sure this beloved event goes off without a hitch more coordinators and volunteers are needed. Island Folk Festival has confirmed they have 200 folks ready to lend a hand, but are looking for roughly 150 more who want to put their best foot forward for a weekend of fun, and fabulous folk talent.
“There’s absolutely no way this event could happen without the hundreds of volunteers. There are so many areas of putting on a festival that the audience may never see or realize, and it’s all powered by volunteers,” said Cowichan Folk Guild president Sheena Wright. “We can always use more volunteers, in so many areas.”
Since the pandemic took the stage in 2020, more volunteers are needed in various areas as the long running festival celebrates getting back to normal after only hosting a popular one-day event in 2022.
“COVID affected us in a big way,” said Wright. “Almost everything that the Folk Guild does comes back to live entertainment. Without an audience, we don’t do much. For the first two years, following all provincial regulations, we pivoted to an online streaming event, with only a few people on site. Last year we came back to a live audience, and a festival feel with a single day event.”
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Wright, who has worn many hats with the festival throughout her 25 year involvement, shares those who want to get in on the fun can visit the Islands Folk Festival website and a volunteer coordinator will pair them with a role that’s a perfect fit. All volunteers are expected to work a minimum of 12 hours, including set up and tear down. There’s a volunteer celebration after tear down on July 23. Aside from being a part of a terrific team, all volunteers will get a pass to the festival, which also includes camping, and parking.
If that is not music to the ears of hopeful helpers then some of the headliners certainly will be. Those gracing the stage this year include Chris Andres, Pat Temple, Scott Owen, and The Steadies plus several other local and international artists.
“It doesn’t matter to me who we have on the stages,” said Wright. “For me, the event is so much more than just the acts. It’s the feeling of community, and family. Seeing old friends and enjoying the outdoors at our beautiful venue. It all adds up to an amazing time that I look forward to every year. The music is just the icing on the cake.”
That icing has left Wright with many memorable musical moments which for her include the Fred Eaglesmith Chapel performance, singing alongside Scott Owen on the Islands stage, and joining in on an honouring dance with the Tzinquaw Dancers. But her real bliss comes from looking out over a bouncing and swaying crowd, and seeing how happy everyone is. Wright hopes that all who join in on this year’s festival share that same joy.
“I hope that all volunteers get to see what makes this festival so amazing,” said Wright. “That they’ll meet new people, try something new, and discover what an amazing community the Islands Folk Festival is. I hope they feel that they are an integral part of this event, and most importantly join us again next year.”