Folk on the Rocks is a go this year. But what will it look like?

·2 min read
The last Folk on the Rocks festival took place in 2019. Organizers are working with the territory on health protocols for this year's festival. (Madeline Lapointe/CBC - image credit)
The last Folk on the Rocks festival took place in 2019. Organizers are working with the territory on health protocols for this year's festival. (Madeline Lapointe/CBC - image credit)

Folk on the Rocks music festival in Yellowknife is planning to open its gates this summer to the delight of many residents.

Last summer was intended to be the 40th anniversary edition of Folk — until COVID-19 forced its cancellation.

But organizers are gearing up for a festival from July 16-18, and there are many questions about how it'll unfold amid the pandemic. What will that look like? How will it adapt to social distancing and other restrictions?

Carly McFadden, the festival's executive and artistic director, said they're still working on it.

"We're in constant conversation with health and social services right now, sort of talking about what those things will look like," she said.

"I submitted a massive plan to them about all the changes that we could make a few weeks ago. And so we sort of have been going back and forth with that."

The bulk of performers this year will likely be from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, she said.

A dad keeps a close eye on his son walking on the sand at the main stage in the early afternoon sun at Folk on the Rocks in 2017.
A dad keeps a close eye on his son walking on the sand at the main stage in the early afternoon sun at Folk on the Rocks in 2017. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

McFadden also hinted at artists from the South coming.

"I think we are going to have a couple other southern surprises for people based on some plans we have for some long-term isolation and things like that," she said. "But I don't want to give away too much right now."

She said the festival organizers have an understanding with the government and chief public health officer that things could change and there needs to be a level of flexibility.

"It's just understood that it's probably an ongoing conversation right up until the end, and us knowing that we just have to stay flexible, and we're really happy to do that," she said. "I mean, we think it's completely worth it. If we get to have the festival alive in some form and bring [the] community together in the way that we feel we really need to at this point."

With the difficult year it's been, McFadden said this festival will be an "enormous" reward and like a "welcoming back of summer and all of those things that we missed."

This year, the festival is also hoping to "borrow" the half day civic holiday from Long John Jamboree, which didn't go ahead this year. On April 12, city administration will draft a bylaw for the civic holiday, which will still have to be approved by council.

"We're hoping that maybe just this year perhaps we can borrow their holiday and then we'll see what happens next year."

The Folk on the Rocks festival is also accepting concepts for merchandise and poster designs for this year.

More information can be found on their website.