Music is a universal language and one of the greatest ways to bring people from all walks of life together. The Islands Folk festival aims to do just that as they celebrate 39 years this upcoming weekend from July 21 to 23 at Providence Farm.
This three-day event will feature a family friendly atmosphere of camping, food, and more than 50 artists, and performers on multiple stages.
“Our 39 years represents so much history, thousands of performers have shared their talents,” said spokesperson Jack Connolly. “As a community festival, the number of volunteer hours and the number of volunteers each year is staggering. Many of our volunteers have been volunteering for decades and maybe they had young children and now those children are volunteering and coordinating volunteers in key positions. It spans quite a legacy.”
Islands Folk Festival hit the stage for the first time in 1985. Following in the footsteps of the Vancouver Folk Festival, it was originally created by musicians as a one-day event. Its resounding success led to the formation of the Cowichan Folk Guild, which produced the next 38 festivals and other music events throughout the years. Even COVID rearing its ugly head couldn’t stop the show from going on, and in 2020, and 2021 the epic music festival was live-streamed from Providence Farm. It was baby steps after the pandemic and in 2022 the festival came back once again as a one-day event and according to Connolly everyone involved including volunteers, vendors, sound techs, and musicians were elated.
“This is the first time in four years that we are back to our full festival where we can have our full kids area and all five stages running,” said Connolly. “Our food and craft vendors are so delighted to be back and we are excited to see them again. This year is more about a return.”
There are a myriad of options to attend the festival, from camping out for the weekend, to coming out for the day or evening. Ticket prices vary accordingly. For those weekend warriors an adult weekend pass is $140 while for youth it’s $70. Tickets can be purchased though the Islands Folk Festival website. For those looking to their reduce costs, or their carbon footprint, there is a free shuttle service with five different locations that can be found at islandsfolkfestival.ca. While the shuttle is free, donations are always greatly appreciated.
There will be no shortage of great talent giving pleasure to ears this year.
“Our festival has always been about discovery. There’s so much talent that there’s not just one act that we are all waiting to play,” said Connolly. “We have found that over the years, our attendees are really varied in their tastes. ‘The best music you’ve never heard — yet’ is the line we like to use in describing it. The most important part is how the community comes together to produce an event that we can all share. It is a large undertaking and there are many moving parts to keep everybody safe, happy, and entertained.”
The Islands Folk festival isn’t just good for the soul, it also has a positive effect on the Cowichan Valley’s economy.
“We try to use local suppliers for everything we need. It’s just another reason to come to the Cowichan Valley and an opportunity for the community to come together for one another, and our visitors,” said Connolly. “Things may have changed in people’s lives post pandemic but the power of music is the same as it always was. So we hope that people will come back ready to celebrate community and music with us at the 2023 Islands Folk Festival.”