Jasper Folk Music Festival cancelled for 2017

There will be a little less music in the mountains this fall — the Jasper Folk Music Festival has been cancelled after construction displaced the event from its regular venue.

The festival, which has run annually for the past four years and attracts up to 1,000 people, is usually held in a large field at Jasper's Centennial Park. But the field is being resurfaced this summer, displacing the festival and other scheduled events.

"The municipality has let us know that they are going to resurface the field so it's a more appropriate soccer field," said Cristin Murphy, the festival's executive director.

"It's kind of bumpy and not that great of a field right now, so they're going to put some money into making it a really nice soccer field."

Murphy said the municipality doesn't want vehicles driving on the newly-resurfaced field, so organizers knew they'd have to try to find a new venue for 2017 and the future. They approached Parks Canada, but they were unable to accommodate more events during a jam-packed year of celebration for Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. 

With only six months until the volunteer-run festival and no options for alternate space, organizers were forced to cancel.

"We're all pretty heartbroken about it but we're trying to stay positive and change our focus into doing a bit of fundraising and looking at what we can for 2018, and where we can kind of recreate our festival that we love," Murphy said.

Murphy said the festival had already booked about a dozen bands and a stage. There's no guarantee they'll get their money back for the stage, but most musicians have been understanding of the situation, she said.

Organizers are now focused on continuing their partnerships with local venues and artists and are optimistic the show will go on in 2018.

"We're as heartbroken as anyone," Murphy said. "We just kind of wanted to make sure everyone knew that we really looked at every single possible option and explored that with the municipality and Parks Canada, and just sometimes in a national park there are restrictions on where you can do things.

"It's a bit bittersweet, but we love where we live and we love hosting a festival here, so we do hope we can make that happen again."