A Summer Tradition: Live from the Rock Folk Festival

When: Aug 11, 12, & 13 (campground opens Aug 10 at noon)
Where: Pull-a-Log Park, Red Rock
Headliners: Anne Lindsay, Heather Bishop, Wax Mannequin, James Boraski Trio
Cost: Advance weekend passes: $70; gate weekend passes: $90; gate day passes: Friday or Saturday, $55/day; Sunday, $45. Special prices for seniors, youth, and children
What not to miss: Festival cafe breakfast, daytime workshop stages, campfire jam, dockside stage, a new interactive daytime “workshop” stage filled with dance, storytelling, and songwriting; doing rather than watching
The scene: Laid back, community, fun for all ages
Where to stay: On site camping, unserviced RV and tent ($20/person for the weekend).
Food: Something for everyone with 15+ food vendors on site
Insider Tip: Buy a program and lots of CDs! Drink lots of water, wear sunscreen, and hug a volunteer!
Memorable moments: So many workshop moments where musicians came together to make amazing music, but probably in 2012 when Jean Paul De Roover and Kim Churchill were in the Loop De Loop workshop only to find out that Kim Churchill doesn’t use a looping pedal… but the music those two guys made together was amazing!

In August of 2002, the Live from the Rock Blues & Folk Society held the first Red Rock Folk Festival on the shores of Lake Superior. Since then the festival has been going strong and this year festival-goers can join them in celebrating their 15th anniversary. Starting with a modest crowd in 2002, the festival now boasts an attendance of over 2,200 festival-goers as of last year. “The very first year it was a small town community event, now it is bigger than ever!” recalls festival sponsorship coordinator Emily Foulds. “Now people come from all over Ontario, Canada, and even the world for this festival.”

So what exactly has kept this festival alive and well for the past 15 years? Well, it’s possible the festival’s sense of community is what draws audiences to the Pull-a-Log Park campgrounds year after year. “Although Red Rock has decreased in population, the festival has increased in patrons,” observes Foulds. “It has become a meeting place for families and friends, it has created its own community.” So no matter how big the festival gets, attendees can be rest assured that they will always be met with a welcoming, family-friendly environment.

Perhaps what has kept them going is the self-sufficiency and know-how of the event organizers. “We are still 100% organized and run by volunteers,” says Foulds. “Now we have seasoned coordinators who have become experts in fields, and a new wave of coordinators who grew up with the festival taking on larger leadership roles.” According to Foulds it’s the “passing of the baton” through generations involved in the festival that contributes to its longevity.

Another reason could be the unique workshops that allow artists to get up close and personal with festival-goers. The Live from the Rock Folk Festival is always full of themed workshops wherein several musicians take to the stage to perform songs that coincide with said theme. What makes these workshops special is that they allow artists to discuss their music as well as participate in never-before-seen collaborations. Not to mention audiences have the ability to experience an abundance of talent-filled performances from up and coming artists. “You may not have heard of them yet but often musicians play the folk fest and a few years later are well-known names playing much larger festivals,” Foulds proudly explains.

No matter the reason, the 15th annual Live from the Rock Folk Festival is one stop on the  summer festival circuit that you will not want to miss.

-Story by Melanie Larson with photos by Paul Jokelainen