Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Middle-aged spread a good thing for fest

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IT'LL still have the same love-and-peace vibe, but the Winnipeg Folk Festival's longtime digs at Birds Hill Park are going to look different this year.

For one thing, there's going to be a central hub for all the stuff festival-goers do beyond listening to great music -- such as eating, drinking and shopping.

"We're building a more community feel in the main area, so the food vendors, the tavern and the homemade village are all moving," says festival executive director Lynne Skromeda. "We're also building a new landmark tower -- it's kind of like a sculpture -- that will be the centre of the plaza area."

The new Festival Village is part of the second phase of the folk festival's $6-million site-redevelopment plan, which will also see the addition of two new forest stages.

Food vendors will have new permanent structures in which to prepare and sell their fare, as well as improved access to electricity and water and an access road that will allow trucks to bring in supplies during the day.

Festival-goers will also have a new shaded eating area instead of having to scramble for a spot in the sun on a random picnic bench.

The two new forest stages bring the festival's total to nine. They will be tucked away in natural clearings in the woods, where mature spruce and oak trees will provide music fans with plenty of shade.

Few trees had to be cleared to make space for the stages, Skromeda says, because the festival worked closely with Manitoba Conservation to choose sites where there were already natural, almost amphitheatre-like depressions in the forest.

One of the new stages is actually a re-positioning of the Little Stage on the Prairie, which had been having some noise-bleed issues from the nearby Bur Oak Stage.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival is seeking the public's help to name the new forest stages. The names should reflect the festival's values -- "green, fun, nature, community and music" -- as well as its connection to Birds Hill Provincial Park. Email your suggestions to ForestStage@winnipegfolkfestival.ca. Include your name and phone number. Deadline to enter is March 22 with winning names to be announced in April.

The festival's Staging the Future capital campaign has raised about 85 per cent of its $6-million fundraising goal, Skromeda says. And by the end of this year's event, the site-redevelopment project will be about two-thirds of the way completed.

Phase 3 involves changes to the campground and is expected to be finished in 2014.

carolin.vesely@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 16, 2013 G7

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