At the cor­ner of no and where

Far­mFest makes 10th an­nual bid to be the best lit­tle mu­sic event in Saskatchewan

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - FRONT PAGE - SARAH LADIK

Wil­low Bunch is not a big place.

But once a year, hun­dreds of peo­ple de­scend on the Cam­pagne fam­ily farm for Far­mFest and more than dou­ble its pop­u­la­tion of just un­der 300.

“Part of the rea­son we started this fes­ti­val was to bring mu­sic into the com­mu­nity,” said a mem­ber of the fam­ily and one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the three-day event Con­nie Kal­dor. “Wil­low Bunch is a small com­mu­nity and they prob­a­bly couldn’t af­ford to bring any of us here, so this is a way for us to bring our tal­ents and our friends’ tal­ents to the area.”

Artists like The Ar­ro­gant Worms, Red Moon Road and Les Bar­ri­cades will flock to south­ern Saskatchewan July 28 through 30 for three days of mu­sic, food and fun. They will be joined by other per­form­ers, as well as the Cam­pagne fam­ily it­self.

This the fes­ti­val’s 10th an­niver­sary, which means the usual 300 or 400 at­ten­dees will likely swell to closer to 500 or more. Kal­dor — who her­self has a ca­reer in the folk scene that has taken her across Canada, the United States and abroad — said many acts and spec­ta­tors from pre­vi­ous years are com­ing back to help mark the mile­stone. Many if not most of those artists are con­nected to the fam­ily in one way or an­other, ei­ther through shar­ing the stage at other fes­ti­vals and events for years or through more fa­mil­ial bonds. Kal­dor’s niece is dat­ing a per­son con­nected to the Win­nipeg-based band Red Moon Road, so they too have been roped into the event.

Wil­low Bunch is a small com­mu­nity and they prob­a­bly couldn’t af­ford to bring any of us here. Con­nie Kal­dor

“That’s how we can get these peo­ple out here, be­cause they like us and know us,” she said. “That’s how we can get them here for prob­a­bly not as much money as they would make go­ing other places.”

Kal­dor said the fam­ily is grate­ful to all the artists who make the trek, ac­knowl­edg­ing that it is off the beaten path for most of them.

“We say it’s at the cor­ner of no and where, but it’s beau­ti­ful,” she said, adding that they are lucky that many of their friends are sound peo­ple and other mu­sic in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als. “It started out on the deck at this place, and now there’s a whole stage.”

More than any­thing, Kal­dor em­pha­sized the low-key, laid­back na­ture of Far­mFest, com­pared to other fes­ti­vals. She said peo­ple are wel­come to camp for the week­end, there is a pan­cake break­fast and other food and drink on of­fer through­out the week­end. They still en­cour­age peo­ple to bring their own lawn chairs, but this is an im­prove­ment on when the fes­ti­val first got started and the poster read, “bring your own ev­ery­thing.”

“It feels like a fam­ily run af­fair,” she said, not­ing that it is not like Craven’s Coun­try Thun­der, nor do or­ga­niz­ers want it to be. “There’s a fam­ily el­e­ment to the show, to the mu­sic, too. We’re lucky enough that our fam­ily is mostly mu­si­cians. Ev­ery­body plays.”

This is also one of the few fes­ti­vals to mix French and English and agri­cul­ture in any way, mak­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing new for many peo­ple. Spec­ta­tors come from across Man­i­toba and Saskatchewan to take part.

“Just nice to sit out on the Prairies and lis­ten to some mu­sic,” Kal­dor said. “If I was in the city, I’d want an ex­cuse to get out of the city for a day.”

For the fam­ily, many of whom split their time be­tween tour­ing and farm­ing, this is also an op­por­tu­nity to give back to the com­mu­nity.

Kal­dor said the ho­tels and restau­rants are full for the week­end and it gives neigh­bours and friends a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence some great mu­sic with­out hav­ing to drive hours to get to it.

This year, or­ga­niz­ers have added the Fri­day night to the mix, fea­tur­ing a Cheesy Song So­cial in which per­form­ers and the au­di­ence are en­cour­aged to sing along to the corni­est songs they can think of.

In pre­vi­ous years they have had co­me­di­ans and un­ex­pected mu­si­cal tal­ent take the stage, and are al­ways look­ing for some­thing new to add.

“It’s a lot of work, and ev­ery year we vow we’re not go­ing to do it, un­til we ac­tu­ally get on stage and then it’s all worth it,” Kal­dor said.

“But I have played ev­ery fes­ti­val in this coun­try and this is like no other. It’s all about mu­sic, it’s all about com­mu­nity, and it’s all about fam­ily.”

PHOTO BY DAVY GAL­LANT

Aleksi Cam­pagne, Benoit For­est and Mia Gal­lant per­form at last year’s Far­mFest in Wil­low Bunch.

PHOTO BY DAVY GAL­LANT

A few hun­dred peo­ple flock to the com­mu­nity of Wil­low Bunch for Far­mFest. This year, or­ga­niz­ers are ex­pect­ing more for the 10th an­niver­sary of the event.

PHOTO BY DAVY GAL­LANT

Slim Williams per­forms at last year’s Far­mFest in Wil­low Bunch.

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