A love letter to the Calgary Folk Fest

This article was originally published on Engage, Momentum’s blog.

Dear Folk Fest,

As my colleagues and I recover from your 35th gathering, we have been reflecting on all the ways you demonstrate community economic development principles. Momentum is, of course, a proud CED organization. Our people care deeply about making Calgary’s local economy work better for more people. Yesterday, over lunch, we celebrated the five ways you show localist leadership:

  1. You hire small: You don’t expect all side-stage artists to have a brand new album, a huge fan base, or an A-list promoter. By being willing to hire small, musical surprises abound for us, your audience, and you help lesser-known, quality artists to make a living in a tough business.
  2. You seek local money: Most of your festival sponsors are Calgary area businesses. You provide great exposure to these businesses, and a chance for their profits to circulate many times for local benefit.
  3. You buy from around here: From the food you feed volunteers to equipment you rent, many of your supply contracts are with local businesses. They are strengthened by your business and can in turn create jobs for local residents.
  4. You care for nature: By prioritizing biking, insisting on plate re-use, buying wind-power and sorting waste, you show a deep understanding that your festival relies on a healthy yet fragile island ecosystem.
  5. You promote entrepreneurship: In the artisan village, the food vendor alley and beyond, you create exposure and markets for smaller businesses.  You value sharing: Whether it’s by sharing a tarp, a jug, a stage or a song, you curate an environment where guests and artists feel connected to each other. Connection yields a virtuous cycle of generosity, and that, above all, is what keeps us coming back.

Each year, you give me four days of island bliss, followed by four more of withdrawal and recovery. This year, I’m going to spend my next 358 days thinking small, favouring local, caring for nature, supporting entrepreneurs, and maybe even sharing sometimes. My hope is that these shifts extend the good vibes I enjoyed on the weekend and into my off-island life.

Of course, I’m going to play my new stack of music, too.

See you next year, CFMF!



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