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Summerfolk46 is right around the corner (got your ticket yet?), so we thought it was a good time to have a chat with Operations Manager, Jaret Koop, about how the heck they came up with this cool idea for a music festival.

Taking place on the August 21/22 weekend, the Folkfest crew will be launching over twenty smaller concerts each day with over forty musicians. It’s unique, ambitious, and darn-right exciting!

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Here’s some questions we had for Jaret and, as interviews typically work, his answers to our questions….

Rrampt: Can you comment on how the SF crew came up with this cool idea and when? 

Jaret: Back in September of 2020 James and I were talking about our 2021 plans and James had mentioned that he had hosted a couple of successful backyard concerts at his place in Perth, and while looking at my backyard we started thinking, “What if we are under similar restrictions in August of 2021 as we were in August of 2020, which was up to 50 indoors and up to 100 outdoors where space allows. Could we throw this festival as a backyard festival?” 

So at that point we began working on a plan to see if we could actually build a multiple venue festival and if we did, where would we find these venues? I started looking for venues and calling our public health unit to see if this was something that they would object to. 

Rrampt: Why was it important to go ahead with a festival this year? 

Jaret: We did not want to go through another year without some form of live music. We felt that it is our job to bring a unique and interesting live music experience to this area and we were going to exhaust every possibility before we would decide to not have live music this year, for the second year in a row.

This is one of the longest running uninterrupted folk festivals in the country and that is a legacy that is not taken for granted in this organization.  

Rrampt: How did you go about choosing the venues? 

Jaret: There were a number of criteria that we used to judge a potential venue. We started with about 30 ideas, but the first thought was: Does it feel right for Summerfolk? Does the aesthetic offer something unique to the experience? After that there were much more logistical criteria revolving around things like access to power, distance from the other sites, and things like that.  

Rrampt: What have you learned from organizing the festival this way? 

Jaret: I personally have learned many things about the logistics of doing something like this, as well as how to present the idea to others to get them on board with a completely different idea than anything we have ever done in the past.

But I would say that what I have learned the most is that there is value in engaging with parts of the community that we traditionally would not when building the festival at our home in Kelso Park. We have spoken with so many people in trying to put this plan together and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It has shown me personally that there is a community of people here that are supportive and very willing to lend a hand when asked. Even if they could not join us as partners in this, people and organizations were willing to help in any way that could, and I have to say that the City of Owen Sound Staff, the staff at the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority Arboretum, The Roxy Theatre, Heartwood Hall, The Harmony Centre, St. Georges Hall, CTRE Old Bank Studios, and all of our private partners have been extremely helpful with getting us to this point, where we can actually see this idea of ours become a reality.    

I could spend another paragraph praising our media partners, sponsors as well as our Volunteers, but really it is the whole community that has been so great with their support in helping us pull this off that I am taking from this experience.  

To see the full list of venues and artists and grab your Summerfolk ticket, go their website at summerfolk.org

Interview by Jesse Wilkinson

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