BIRDS HILL — There’s a scene in Judd Apatow’s 2007 comedy Knocked Up in which Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen are sitting on a bench, watching Rudd’s fictional kids — played by Maude and Iris Apatow — play with bubbles.

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Opinion

BIRDS HILL — There’s a scene in Judd Apatow’s 2007 comedy Knocked Up in which Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen are sitting on a bench, watching Rudd’s fictional kids — played by Maude and Iris Apatow — play with bubbles.

"I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles," Rudd sighs.

I was reminded of that scene watching iridescent spheres lazily float in the hot afternoon haze at the Winnipeg Folk Festival on Friday. Kids freaking love bubbles, it’s true. Ditto parachutes, glitter, face paint and hotdogs. And they love those things with unselfconscious enthusiasm.

Adults forget. We get so wrapped up in the schedules and to-do lists that rule our "crazy-busy" lives that we forget about taking time out to play. We forget about taking time to relax — really, truly relax. We forget about the joy of a bubble.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival is our reminder. For four days, we can all be children again. Our days are long and blissfully open, the way they were on summer vacation. We can doze in sun-dappled groves. We can dance freely and breathe deeply.

That sounds like a platitude you might find on a Lululemon bag — dance, sing, floss and travel! — but, for many people, the Winnipeg Folk Festival offers an important time for reconnection. It’s a chance to reconnect with friends, with ourselves. For many people, it feels like coming home.

But we forget that, too, or at least I do. I’m always excited on Thursday. By Sunday, I am always thoroughly uncharmed by djembe circles, flower crowns and the sight of other people’s dirty feet.

That’s why it’s useful to re-see it, from time to time, through fresh eyes — be those of a first-timer, or those of kids.

Jason Kawakami would agree. The 40-year-old with waist-length dreadlocks has been coming to Folk Fest for 20 years.

His two youngest children, Izzy, 6, and Romeo, 4, spent the day making arts and crafts. Izzy had transformed a stick into a resplendent fairy wand; Romeo’s hands were covered in blue and green paint from a work of art. "Nothing you would understand," he said.

Kawakami said that re-experiencing the fest again with his kids has been special. "It becomes magical again." Izzy, who loves fairies and fireflies, is growing up to be a Folk Fest lifer. She’s been camping — in festival camping, no less — since she was seven weeks old. "She has the spirit for sure," her father said proudly.

Jennifer Davidson, 43, has been attending Folk Fest since she was a five-year-old. Her seven-week-old son, Carter, was asleep on her lap in a shady area where flush-cheeked toddlers napped with their parents on a patchwork of blankets.

Her older kids — 12 and nine — were running around somewhere. The old adage "it takes a village to raise a child" certainly applies at Folk Fest, where parents can be secure in the knowledge that their kids are safe. "They feel at home here," she said.

I met Teagan, 9, in the craft tent making a journal with local artist Jennie O. Her sister, seven-year-old Lillian, wasn’t exactly feeling Folk Fest vibes on Friday morning, her little face covered in mosquito bites. Teagan prefers classical music to folk music — Beethoven in particular — but she loves making crafts. She’s been coming to Folk Fest since she was two.

Chanelle, 9, was also in the craft tent, decorating her silver handmade journal. She was impressed with how many bathrooms are at the festival. She was unimpressed with the lack of Taylor Swift.

"Anything that’s not on the radio or not, like, Taylor Swift or anything, I refer to it as ‘old-people music,’" she told me. (We’ll give her time.)

But every kid I met — including Thomas, whose face was painted like a cat because he wanted to look like Catwoman, and Henry, 8, who is a fine tug-of-war opponent — was having the best time.

Well, maybe not every kid. When I met two-year-old Jacey, she was sitting in the middle of a dusty trail, pouting. But based on the melted chocolate Fudgesicle that was streaked across her pudgy baby cheeks, the day hadn’t been all bad.

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.ca

Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti
Columnist

Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper's local culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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