Every year, my sister, my children, and I make an annual pilgrimage to the Winnipeg Folk Festival. This was my 18th year in attendance. It is, in my mind, one of the greatest places on earth. What can be better than a weekend spent outdoors, listening to great music, being inspired by interesting conversations, eating good food, people-watching, hanging out with my sister and kids, and running into old friends I haven’t seen in awhile?

Here are a few of my thoughts after this year’s pilgrimage:
– one of my favourite moments was on Friday night when my sister, my brother, and I were hanging out on the tarp at the evening stage. I lay on my back for awhile and looked up at the wispy clouds. Someone was blowing bubbles not too far away and they were drifting into my line of sight. Dragonflies filled the sky, floating on iridescent wings. If I looked straight up, all I could see were dragonflies, bubbles, and clouds. With the backdrop of the music and my sister’s and brother’s voices, it felt like a perfect moment.

– every year, I end up with a new favourite musician. Last year it was Martyn Joseph. This year it was Catie Curtis. They’re always singer-songwriters who can spin words into magic.

– my sister is one of my favourite people. I love that we share this common passion for the Folk Festival. We have our own language to describe the many memories we share from 16 Folk Festival visits. We share a love for good lyrics and smart songwriters. I also love how attached she is to my children, and I look forward to holding her baby at next year’s Festival.

– my sister gave me one of the greatest presents for my birthday this year. Last year, for the 30th anniversary of the Festival, we’d both had poems published in the commemorative section of the program. For my birthday, she framed the two poems, along with a picture of her and I.

– I was so proud of my three daughters yesterday. It was hot and muddy, and I thought they might get cranky, but they were all in good spirits.

– my daughters are all unique individuals and I love discovering their personalities. Yesterday, I fell in love with them all over again. Something beautiful shone from each of them… here’s what it was…

– Nikki has an incredible sense of style, and I admire her courage to try something out that she thinks is fun and funky, even if it’s not necessarily the “in thing”. Every time I caught a glimpse of her yesterday, in her tie-died yellow skirt and top (that I got her in Africa), her funky green hat, and her unique mixture of necklaces, bracelets, and anklets, I thought “what a cool looking girl! Is she really MY daughter?” She bought a really funky ring yesterday – big and bold and beautiful on her.

– Julie has a beautiful generous heart. She’d saved her birthday money for the Folk Festival, and it was burning a hole in her pocket. She wanted to buy something for everyone, and she willingly shared whatever she bought for herself. She bought her sister Maddie an ice cream, because she knew I didn’t have extra money for treats.

– Maddie is bold and free-spirited. She has blind faith that the world will be good to her, so when she wanders off to play among strangers, she never looks back to make sure her Mom is a safe distance away. She is drawn to people, and she’d often wander over to complete strangers, strike up a conversation with them, and plunk herself down on their tarp or extra chair. She expects everyone to want to be her friend.

– It was fun introducing my niece Amy to the Folk Festival. She spent part of the day with us before flying home to Alberta. She’s getting so grown up and independent. I love to see the focus she has when she’s examining something that fascinates her, or when she’s constructing a work of art. She was quite disappointed in the craft tent when the volunteers wanted to do most of the work of the craft for her – she was quite capable of doing it herself.

– I have a lot of interesting friends, and it was fun to run into them now and then at the Festival. I didn’t spend as much time with some of them as I would have liked to, but it was nice to know they were in the crowd and enjoying the same things I was.

– My friend Ian Ross has become quite a celebrity, and it was fun to watch him in his element. After watching him do a storytelling thing at the kids tent, I hung out with him for awhile and met his daughter. He has a beautiful spirit and a wisdom that attracts people to him. I miss hanging out with him, because he has a feeling of home about him – a feeling that you are safe and cared for when you are in his presence.

– one of the greatest things about the Folk Festival is that so many people are nice to you there. People are relaxed and happy, and good music makes for good moods. It’s partly because people feel like they’re on holidays when they’re there, and partly because many of the people there are of the “social justice – share the love” demographic, but for whatever reason, it has a really good feel. People look out for each other, you can leave your stuff lying around without worrying about it getting stolen, people step aside to let you pass, your children are safe and respected – it’s just a barrel full ‘a kindness!

– I love my husband for being patient and persevering every year at this time of year. The Folk Festival’s not his thing, but he never tries to stop me from going. He lets me disappear for three days without complaining, and he always spends at least one day caring for the kids so that I can go kid-free.

Only 362 days until next year’s festival!

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