Winnipeg Folk Festival

Coordinates: 50°02′01″N 96°52′48″W / 50.0335°N 96.8801°W / 50.0335; -96.8801
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Winnipeg Folk Festival
Winnipeg Folk Festival Main Stage 2019
GenreMusic festival, arts festival
DatesJuly 6–9, 2023
Location(s)Birds Hill Provincial Park,
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Years active1974–present
Founded byMitch Podolak, Colin Gorrie & Ava Kobrinsky[1]

The Winnipeg Folk Festival is a nonprofit charitable organization[1] with an annual summer folk music festival held in Birds Hill Provincial Park, near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The festival features a variety of artists and music from around the world and is sure to include a number of local artists.[2]

Begun by Mitch Podolak, Colin Gorrie, and Ava Kobrinsky[1] in 1974 as a celebration of Winnipeg's centennial, the festival itself has grown into an event exceeding 70,000 attendees to the festival annually.[3] The festival is held over the second weekend of July, beginning on Thursday night and running through to Sunday night.

Beyond the four-day festival, the organization offers year-round concert programming at venues throughout the city bringing in artists as well as organizing free concert programming throughout the city.


The festival offers a wide selection of music over the four-day festival. Throughout the year the organization facilitates the Hear All Year concert series.

Festival programming[edit]

There is a large variety of music at the festival, including bluegrass, Celtic, blues, roots, indie folk, Americana, folk rock, French Canadian, contemporary singer-songwriters, and a variety of children's performers. Every year artists join the lineup from all over North America and across the world.[2] The Winnipeg Folk Festival hosts over 70 artists annually from nearly 10 different countries[4] including Australia, Colombia, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Niger, United Kingdom and more with the majority of the acts coming from Canada and the United States.[5]

The festival showcases several genres every summer. Past performers include Bahamas, Joan Baez, Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo, Oscar Brand, Brandi Carlile, Bruce Cockburn, City and Colour, Courtney Barnett, Ray Davies, Death Cab for Cutie, Elle King, Mimi Farina, Feist, Fleet Foxes, Stephane Grappelli, Great Big Sea, Arlo Guthrie, Half Moon Run, Emmylou Harris, Japanese Breakfast, Levon Helm, John Hiatt, Jason Mraz, Kacey Musgraves, k.d. lang, K'naan, Lyle Lovett, Nick Lowe, Natalie MacMaster, Odetta, Passenger, Pete Seeger, Sheryl Crow, The Shins, Stan Rogers, The Strumbellas, Sudan Archives, Jeff Tweedy, Townes van Zandt, Kurt Vile, Weyes Blood, and Wilco.

Each year the Winnipeg Folk Festival showcases local Manitoba talent including Begonia, Boniface, The Bros. Landreth, John K. Samson, Leonard Sumner, Living Hour, Richard Inman, Roger Roger, Royal Canoe, William Prince and more.[6]


Winnipeg Centennial Folksong Festival, 1974[edit]

The first Winnipeg folk festival was held August 9 - 11, 1974 at Birds Hill Provincial Park.[7][8] The free concert was staged with funding from the Centennial Committee and the CBC.[9] The event depended on the collective work of many local volunteers so the organizers developed an organizational structure that embodied their philosophy that everyone contributing was a significant participant.[9][8] Subsequent events built on the foundation of this initial idea creating a model that heavily influenced the operation of other similar festivals in Canada, particularly the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Edmonton Folk Festival.[9][10]

Performers at the first festival included:

Honorary members[edit]

  • Mitch Podolak (Founder/Director/Artistic Director), 1974–1975
  • Colin Gorrie (Founder), 1974–1975
  • Ava Kobrinsky (Founder), 1976–1989
  • Nate Nurgitz (Board Legal Advisor), 1975–85
  • Bill Merritt (Business/general manager), 1977–1994
  • Jon Singleton (Past Treasurer), 1978–1987

Past Executive Directors[edit]

  • Trudy Schroeder, 1999–2008
  • Tamara Kater, 2008–2011

Past Artistic Directors[edit]

  • Mitch Podolak, 1974–1986
  • Rosalie Goldstein, 1987–1991
  • Pierre Guérin, 1992–2000
  • Rick Fenton, 2001–2004

Past President and Chairs[edit]

  • Peter Stringham, 1976–1979
  • Greg Brunskill, 1980
  • Derek Black, 1981–1987
  • Jane Graham, 1988–1990
  • David Asper, 1991–1992
  • Michael Handler, 1993–1995
  • Brenda Prosken, 1996–1998
  • Gloria Koop, 1999–2000
  • Gerry Couture, 2001–2002
  • Sandra Altner 2003–2004
  • Terry Sargeant 2005–2009
  • Allan Finkel 2010–2011
  • Gerry Couture, 2012
  • Mike Baudic, 2012–2015
  • Karen-Denise Cyr, 2015–2017[11]


  1. ^ a b c "Winnipeg Folk Festival | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Winnipeg Folk Festival kicks off its 46th year". CBC News Manitoba.
  3. ^ "Folk Fest hit record attendance". Winnipeg Free Press.
  4. ^ "Winnipeg Folk Festival Annual Report 2018-2019" (PDF). Winnipeg Folk Festival Annual Report 2018-2019.
  5. ^ "Summer's golden hour". Winnipeg Free Press. March 6, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw "Past Performers". Winnipeg Folk Festival. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Winnipeg Centennial Folksong Festival, 1974 (poster)". Winnipeg Folk Festival. Retrieved July 9, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Einarson, John (July 6, 2014). "Jul 2014: The first Folk Fest". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved July 9, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c MacDonald, Michael (August 1, 2006). "THIS IS IMPORTANT!: Mitch Podolak, The Revolutionary Establishment, and the Founding of the Winnipeg Folk Festival" (PDF). Ottawa: School of Canadian Studies, Carleton University. Retrieved July 12, 2022. x
  10. ^ Birtles, Bryan (August 3, 2011). "How did we get here? The origins of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival". Music Story Archive. VUE Weekly. Archived from the original on May 17, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  11. ^ "Staff and Board – Winnipeg Folk Festival". Retrieved October 2, 2019.

50°02′01″N 96°52′48″W / 50.0335°N 96.8801°W / 50.0335; -96.8801