Music festival shines in rain

Thousands of music fans enjoyed the 25th annual Mission Folk Festival

Los Pinguos performs at one of the day stages at the Mission Folk Music Festival this past weekend at Fraser River Heritage Park.

Although rains subdued crowds, thousands still turned up at Fraser River Heritage Park to listen to an international lineup of musicians at the annual Mission Folk Music Festival.

“The festival continues to surprise me because even though I plan it and program it,” said founder and organizer Francis Xavier. “It has a life of its own.”

With steady rain falling Friday night, Xavier expected an empty park, but the fans still came. Festival workers erected shelters for people to sit under, but most were well-prepared with tarps and umbrellas of their own, he said.

Xavier added it was kind of a relief after previous years of scorching temperatures that made sitting still unpleasant.

“When it’s like this you know people aren’t going to the beach, and the festival is a good place to spend the day where it’s a bit overcast,” he said.

The clouds lifted Friday night, leading to a gorgeous day Saturday with heavy foot traffic, important for the non-profit’s ticket sales. Xavier said he was inundated with compliments from visitors about the quality and diversity of the musicians at this year’s folk fest, which featured artists from six continents, including an island large enough to be a continent, Greenland.

“Rasmus Lyberth really touched people,” said Xavier. “He sings in Inuit. People don’t even know what he’s singing, but some people cried when they heard him.”

Lyberth, along with aboriginal singer Buffy Sainte-Marie and Shane Howard, held an aboriginal-themed workshop on the day stages. Howard was the first musician in Australia to broach the controversial subject of the Aborigines three decades ago.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the festival, and although Xavier said he’s quite exhausted from this one, he has every intention of returning for a 26th year.

“We don’t simply run on money. We run on the good will of the community. Lots of volunteers, friends, and supporters who help make it happen.”