After two years of online events, the Mission Folk Music Festival is returning to Fraser River Heritage Park. / Bob Friesen File Photo

After two years of online events, the Mission Folk Music Festival is returning to Fraser River Heritage Park. / Bob Friesen File Photo

It’s back: Mission Folk Music Festival returns to Heritage Park

After two years of online events, live music will return in July

Michelle Demers Shaevitz can barely contain her excitement.

“We are back.”

The artistic director of the Mission Folk Music Festival said she and her team of volunteers are excited to gather again in the park.

“We have put together a wide-ranging line up that features lots of music from across Canada and this year we have three bands from around the world,” said Demers Shaevitz.

The 2022 festival takes place July 22-24 in Fraser River Heritage Park and features a diverse roster of talented artists and groups from across Canada, the U.S., Estonia, Taiwan and Chile.

With many Covid restrictions now lifted, this is the first in-person festival in the past two years, following two online events.

It hasn’t been an easy time, but Demers Shaevitz said the festival is still on solid ground.

“I have never written more grants in my life,” she said with a laugh, adding that the festival has maintained a favourable position.

“I will never spend what I don’t have in my pocket.”

The online festivals helped keep the Mission brand out in the public eye.

“My goal was to make sure we had a presence in the music ecosystem,” she said, noting the online shows were hard because you lose all that energy in-person concerts create.

Demers Shaevitz said the last two years have really highlighted the fact that the folk fest needs to strengthen its infrastructure, build its team, build community connections and support other community organizations.

One example of that is the festival is going to lend its new sound system to the organizers of the Twilight Concert Series, as part of it’s community outreach.

This year’s live festival is presenting it’s own challenges as organizers deal with post Covid concerns.

“We are navigating this new normal. We are proceeding gently as so many people are at so many different stages of emerging. Just remember, we are all in this together,” said Demers Shaevitz.

Music lovers can expect a lively show this year as organizers have picked artists who “have a sort of contemporary perspective, but really draw on tradition.”

Sunday night’s closing act will be William Prince, who’s influences range from the gospel of his childhood to the pantheon of classic outlaw country singers.

“He sounds like Elvis and Roy Orbison and brings with him a story-telling tradition,” said Demers Shaevitz.

Two performers to pay close attention to on Saturday night are Ontario’s Shakura S’Aida and Quebec’s Le Winston Band.

Shakura S’Aida is a blues singer who has been thrilling folks with her powerful pipes for years.

The Le Winston Band is a rollicking hybrid of Zydeco, French-Canadian roots, rock and Cajun music.

“ They will have our crowd dancing their butts off.”

Friday night’s closing act is B.C.’s Shred Kelly, a five-piece, alternative folk-rock band from the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

“I’m so excited to have Shred Kelly here, after it was such a hit during the online festival.

These are just an example of some of the acts slated to perform at the festival.

It’s going to be great, not just the music, but seeing the festival family again.”

During this year’s festival, organizers will be following all provincial, regional and civic Covid guidelines. Expect to see hand sanitizer around the park and calls for social distancing if needed.

“We recognize that our audience and our artists are very diverse and with that comes various levels of comfort and various levels of views on how the last two years have unfolded,” said Demers Shaevitz.

She is asking people to respect other people’s level of comfort and says if you haven’t been to the festival to come on out.

“It is our responsibility to reintroduce ourselves every year. There are so many new people in Mission, new families I really want them to come and experience the festival.”

To celebrate the festival’s 35th Anniversary, weekend passes are on sale at a cost of $105 for adults, $90 for seniors (60+) and students and $50 for youth (13-18).

The offer is good until May 31. On June 1 higher ticket prices go in effect.

Purchase tickets at: http://www.missionfolkmusicfestival.ca/

 

Michelle Demers Shaevitz is the executive director of the Mission Folk Music Festival. / Submitted Photo

Michelle Demers Shaevitz is the executive director of the Mission Folk Music Festival. / Submitted Photo