The unkind wrath of this past weekend’s weather was no match for loyal folkies at the Brandon Folk, Music and Art Festival, but it did manage to take a hit at attendance.
Mean clouds and cool winds Saturday descended on the festival leaving the audience scrambling for shelter, many huddled under tents set up on the Keystone Centre grounds.
But with the rain came some special moments.
During the Pete Seeger workshop, 12 people gathered around one mic to stay dry and during Matt Epp’s set, at the tail end of Saturday’s storm, audience members and musicians brought up umbrellas for each performer and stood there for the entire show.
"It made for quite a magical moment on stage," said Shandra MacNeill, the festival's artistic director. "We were in it together and that was really great."
MacNeill said it was a testament to the loyalty of the audience over the years.
"(Attendance) was definitely down because of the weather ... but we had about 300 people on site even through the rain, which was really great."
Gord Ziegler and Nicole Lavallee of Onanole braved Saturday’s weather but said the rain didn’t dampen their spirits.
The two came with a group of several families from Onanole, the few times per summer those in cottage country make their way down to Brandon.
"It’s a great place to bring your family, there’s music, there’s dancing," Lavallee said.
The end of Montreal’s Cold Specks set marked the end of the 30th year for the festival, and while the audience has grown and attracted bigger acts in recent years, not much has changed.
Even after 30 years, the laid-back, relaxing and slow atmosphere of the festival has remained, said Cheryl Winger, who’s been coming to the festival on and off since its second year.
"The feeling has pretty much been the same, I’m happy to see a lot more people and the fact that there’s camping now — there didn’t used to be," she said as her two grandchildren, age two and four, ran around her chasing bubbles in the air.
Her grandkids are the same age her children were when the festival started.
"It’s kind of cool, 30 years later," she said.
It was clear audience numbers were low, at least on Saturday, but the final numbers won’t be tallied for a few weeks, MacNeill said. Nonetheless, "it was pretty spectacular."
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