Folk festival will draw thousands to the park

Mari Boine is one of the performer’s at this year’s Mission Folk Music Festival gala concert

Mari Boine is one of the performer’s at this year’s Mission Folk Music Festival gala concert

The 24th Annual Mission Folk Music Festival begins today, rain or shine, and organizers have been putting in the hours to ensure everything is just right in Fraser River Heritage Park.

“We’ve been working with fewer resources and less time, so everything’s been a little bit compacted,” said long-time organizer Francis Xavier.

The festival had less money this year due mainly to provincial funding cuts to the arts, and the time crunch was because many of the students who usually help with the festival were busy working on the federal election, Xavier explained.

But that hasn’t slowed the preparations, as stages, tents and fences have been erected in anticipation of the 5,000 to 7,000 visitors expected to come for the music between today and Sunday evening.

Sales have been on par with previous years, but Xavier says the weekend is when most people buy tickets. The weather also plays a factor he added, but extremely hot temperatures have historically had a dampening effect on ticket sales compared to cool weather.

Tonight is the gala concert at the Clarke Theatre beginning at 7:30 p.m. with

internationally acclaimed musicians such as Mari Boine of Norway, Harald Haugaard and Helene Blum of Denmark, and Ireland’s Maire Ni Chathasaigh. Those tickets, bundled in a package with all four evening concerts, are $50 at the gate.

A weekend pass is $100 at the door, with discounts for students and seniors, while children between five and 12 years old pay $10.

The box office opens July 22 at 3 p.m. at Fraser River Heritage Park, where people are given the option of buying both tickets and camping accommodations. Camping is $30 a day and includes showers, flush toilets and campsite cafe.

The main gate opens on the weekend at 11 a.m. to live day concerts, information booths, workshops and impromptu jam sessions. Main stage concerts run Friday evening at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m., featuring a variety of local, national and international talent.

Paid parking is available on-site, but overflow is a 10-minute walk away.

Xavier said it’s best to dress for the outdoors, particularly given the currently cool weather, and bring sunscreen, hats, rain gear and mosquito repellant. No alcohol is allowed on site, and audio and video recording is prohibited.

Bring low-back chairs or blankets to curl up on the grass and enjoy the music.

For all the information on musicians, concerts, events and prices visit www.missionfolkmusicfestival.ca or call 1-866-494-FOLK.