*Joyce MacPhee, a member of the original Steering Committee, wrote a history of the festival beginning with its inception. The history recounts the Festival’s roots and provides a synopsis of each year. Rachel Hauraney kindly assisted with the write-up for 2010, and Lynn Haggarty generously wrote the synopsis for 2011. Read on to get a taste of the Festival’s flavour and relive some of its most wonderful moments.
The 2012 Ottawa Folk Festival attracted unprecedented attendance numbers, with 25 to 30 thousand music fans showing up for the five-day event, doubling the previous year’s audience. This does not include the free programming, where estimates ranged from four to five thousand attendees. The event was staged at the newly configured site at Hog’s Back Park.
“The combination of free programming plus the major acts we brought in resulted in a very successful year,” says Mark Monahan, the festival’s executive director and head of programming. “Fans really enjoyed the changes we made to the festival site, so we hope to continue to improve and to build on this success.”
Featured acts in 2012 included Lindsey Buckingham, Great Big Sea, Kathleen Edwards, Patrick Watson, and Dan Mangan, with multi-Grammy winner Bon Iver wrapping up the festivities.
The Ottawa Folk Festival wrapped up its 2013 run with concerts by the Canadian folk icon Gordon Lightfoot and reggae trailblazers, The Wailers. The Festival attracted nearly 50,000 patrons during the five-day event by highlighting a wide range of music — from the godmother of punk Patti Smith to the newest hip hop sensation Kendrick Lamar, and from the quirky rhythms of Vampire Weekend to a jaw-dropping set by American roots-rockers the Avett Brothers.
Other Folk Festival highlights included a special afternoon appearance by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who shared stories and played music with singer-songwriter Danny Michel. And fans will not soon forget the stunning set by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell — it was a special musical moment. In recognition of its ability to connect people and deliver these kinds of special moments, the Ottawa Folk Festival was recognized in 2013 as one of the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Events in North America. With another successful year in the books, planning for the 2014 Ottawa Folk Festival is now well under way.