Winnipeg Folk Festival

Winnipeg Folk Festival. It was established in 1974 by Mitch Podolak, Ava Kobrinsky and Colin Gorrie as part of Winnipeg's centennial celebrations. Held at Bird's Hill Park, 30 km northeast of the city, it was scheduled 9-11 August in its first year but subsequently moved to the second weekend in July. By the early 1980s the festival was characterized as the largest event of its kind in North America, attracting audiences of up to 40,000 for four-day programs of more than 100 artists and ensembles. Podolak was its artistic director 1974-85, followed 1986-91 by Rosalie Goldstein, previously the festival's associate director. Pierre Guérin succeeded Goldstein after the 1991 festival.

Devoted to traditional and contemporary folk performers under Podolak's hand, the festival took an eclectic and ultimately controversial turn during Goldstein's term, typified by her addition to the program of world music, jazz, free improvisation, rock, dub poetry, and punk music. Guérin's appointment was seen to signal the return of more conventional programming. Among Canadian performers, Bruce Cockburn, Connie Kaldor, Alain Lamontagne, Big Dave McLean, Stan Rogers, and Spirit of the West have been among festival favorites over the years. CBC radio has recorded performances for its folk and variety shows from the outset and has offered live broadcasts of the festival's Sunday evening programs. In 1988 and 1990 festival performances were heard in the USA via the American Public Radio network.

Under the umbrella of the non-profit Winnipeg Centennial Folk Festival Inc, the festival also has presented concerts during the winter season, variously employing the Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, The Playhouse Theatre, Le Rendezvous, and other venues. In 1982 it established Home-Made Music, a folklore and retail centre, in downtown Winnipeg.