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This article was published 19/7/2018 (487 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The 34th annual Brandon Folk, Music and Art Festival will be a significant departure from the long-running event’s usual style.
Taking place on Saturday, the festival will be held for one day, instead of three. It is also in a new venue — Princess Park in downtown Brandon. The group had hosted the event on the Keystone Centre grounds for more than 30 years.
Organizers did not return The Brandon Sun’s requests for interviews on Wednesday. When reached by phone, Brandon Folk Music and Art Society vice-chair Marcel Roberge refused to comment on the festival or answer any questions.
The Brandon Sun obtained an email sent to volunteers in May, signed by artistic director Shandra MacNeill and secretary-treasurer Natalia Lebedinskaia.
The email addresses the venue change, which they say is due to some "pretty significant problems with the Keystone Centre that had been getting worse for years." This includes increasing costs, as well as claims of overcharges.
"We do have hopes this may still be resolved in the future."
Keystone Centre management declined to comment on the matter. Tim Hore, the Keystone board chair said to his knowledge, "the Brandon Folk Festival moved at their own desire … and are undergoing some change to the organization."
It is possible that the festival could return to the Keystone in future years.
"The Keystone, from a board perspective, encourages management to look at all opportunities that meet with the strategic direction of where the Keystone is headed and what it’s all about to Brandon," Hore said. "If there’s opportunities for events like folk festivals and so on and so forth, certainly (general manager) Jeff Schumacher and his team look at everything when they’re sourcing out new ventures."
The BFMAS email goes on to state that organizers have rallied together to come up with a plan to make a festival happen this year.
"We think it takes the best parts of the three-day fest, music, people, vendors, community and an environment that makes people feel good. It also lets the public come see what we dohiddenaway in the trees every year because the event will be free and in Princess Park."
As The Brandon Sun previously reported, a campaign was launched in April to boycott the festival. There were concerns from longtime supporters about how the organization was being run, such as closing the annual general meeting to the media and the public.
The "Boycott Brandon Folk Festival" page has since been removed, but there appears to still be disappointment from longtime supporters.
Betty Peloquin has attended every Brandon Folk Festival since its inception in 1985. This will be the first year she will not be there.
"I just can’t find it in my heart to go, just the way I was treated at the AGM and just in general … I just wouldn’t feel good about going," she said.
Peloquin was one of eight people who attended the AGM in April, and said she felt uncomfortable voting on lengthy bylaw revisions in such a short time.
Her main concern is the "exclusiveness" of the organization. At that time, other supporters expressed their displeasure with the lack of transparency and openness.
In the BFMAS email, organizers stated that they plan to sit down and meet with volunteers after the festival, "to talk about what to do next year and possibly the years after."
"We have a lot of options, so we’re trying to see this as an opportunity to make the festival better and we want to make sure your ideas become part of that vision."
Saturday’s festival will begin at noon with an opening ceremony featuring Sweet Medicine Singers. Afternoon performers include the Caitlin Baker Duo, Mitchell Mozdzen, Michelle Boudreau Band and Nic Nieves. A songwriters workshop is scheduled for 3:35 p.m., followed by Wanda Wilson, Wax Mannequin and Slow Leaves.
At 7:10 p.m., Romi Mayes will take the stage, followed by Sweet Alibi at 8:05 p.m.
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