The Mariposa Folk Festival keeps getting bigger and better. A strategic decision to spend more money on talent, particularly on big name acts, such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, this year’s headliner, is creating record ticket sales.

“It’s really boom times for the festival,” said Chris Hazel, Mariposa Folk Foundation manager. “Headliners help to sell tickets to people who don’t know about the festival and the rest of the line-up is what keeps them coming back.”

The festival is the largest event of the year for the foundation.  The three-day weekend features more than 100 performances by folk and roots musicians on 12 stages in Orillia’s Tudhope Park. The festival also includes an Emporium, artisans’ village, workshops, kids’ ‘folkplay’ area, food, beer tent, and more.

Hazel was a stay-at-home dad for 10 years before accepting the position of foundation manager. In fact, it was his re-entry into the working world. He had been a regular festival goer prior to the new job title. He’s particularly excited about a new direction to attract younger audiences over the next five years. New activities and entertainment will appeal to children, their parents, and grandparents.

As such, Mariposa Folk Festival kicks off on Friday evening, July 6, with Walk off the Earth, a multi-talented, five-piece Juno Award-winning band that has established a huge social media following. Known for the hit single Fire In My Soul, the band released a love song called NOMAD last year.

“Nine and 10-year-old kids are super excited to see them,” said Hazel. “We’re going to include workshops on juggling and stilt walking and there’s a cool act I think a lot of young people will join – to sing karaoke with a live band. Good Enough Live Karaoke has a huge repertoire of songs. They ’ll be like the back-up band. That’s going to be fun.”

The festival also has an agreement with the Downtown Orillia Management Board to provide live entertainment on two stages with free shuttle services running back and forth to Tudhope Park, July 6-7. The line-up will include performances by three winners of a showcase competition, held earlier this year, for new and emerging artists. All three winners, including local musician Cole Mendez’s band The Free Label, will perform on the downtown stage as well as at Tudhope Park.  The competition attracted more than 80 applicants.

As a part of the effort to extend music throughout Orillia, there was also a free concert at the Best Western on March 16 with Reuben and the Dark.

The  Mariposa Folk Festival runs July 6-8. Visit mariposafolk.com for tickets and more information.

Pictured, Buffy Sainte-Marie. Denise Grant photo

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