Folkin’ Around at Orillia’s Mariposa Folk Festival 2017

It was a stressful start for me and my family—getting packed up, making snacks, and battling the cottage traffic—but when we entered the Mariposa Folk Festival, an undeniable sense of calmness started to take over. There’s really no other way to put it: Mariposa is just so chill.

It’s chill in that, even with what seemed like record attendance, people take their time walking. People generally don’t push to get past you. It’s chill in that my sister can let her kids play freely with the other “folk festival kids” without worry. People look out for each other at Mariposa. (My sister remembered giving a band-aid to a little boy who played with my nephews many years ago. She actually ran into his parents this year, and they graciously offered her a seat in the crowded Pub Tent!)

Mariposa is really a kind of experience that is hard to express in words. Even if you’re not familiar with the lineup, I recommend you attend if you haven’t yet. You just need to get a feel for the festival. You’re bound to find some interesting food you’ve never tried, some artisans’ wares perfect for gifting, or a new band to fall in love with. And there’s nothing like watching the sunset off the “point” while the music echoes from Main Stage.

The cloudy sunset off the “point”
Everywhere you turn, you find live music – even in the Artisan Village!

Mariposa is so much about the combination of place and sound in that way. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview one of my favourite bands, Great Lake Swimmers. Their lead singer, Tony Dekker, spoke about how he enjoyed playing on the smaller Pub Tent stage and how fitting their music style is to the vibe of the festival. I couldn’t agree more. Me and my family sat on a nearby dock (getting splashed by the occasional wave), listening to the Great Lake Swimmers on the lake (not a Great Lake, but still). Sitting in the sunshine, rocking on the waves, sipping lemonade, watching the trees blow, and listening to beautiful music? How perfect?!

Me and my “folks” taking in the Great Lake Swimmers

I also stumbled upon some wonderfully talented bands, that were very new to me, performing on the smaller workshop stages. As I was walking by, acts like Atomic Wednesday, The Lonesome Ace Stringband, and The Bombadils stopped me in my tracks to listen.

Folks resting in the shade by the Barnfield Stage

To top all this, the Main Stage performers this year were an absolute blast. I can’t properly summarize the energy and spectacular sound from performers like Ruth B, Matt Anderson, Irish Mythen, Barenaked Ladies, Bruce Cockburn, and so many more. I was beyond excited to see The New Pornographers—the Saturday night headliner and another personal favourite of mine. My partner can attest to my enthusiasm (as I pulled him up to the stage when they started playing my favourite song).


Another Mariposa Folk Festival down, and I already can’t wait to get back!


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