The sold-out Mariposa Folk Fest hits the right notes (6 photos)

“We’ve been coming for about 10 years in a row and are so happy to be back,” said the Peterborough festival-goer; “It’s just a lot of fun”

For the first time since 2019, folk fans will flock to Orillia for the Mariposa Folk Festival.

And for the first time in over 30 years, tickets to the legendary music festival are sold out.

Thousands of guests from far and wide descended on Tudhope Park on Friday afternoon to kick off the weekend’s celebrations – finding good places to sit, filling beer tents and trying out one of this year’s many food trucks for the first time in three years.

“We’ve been coming for about 10 years in a row and are so happy to be back,” said Kate Kennington, who had traveled from Peterborough with her daughters Porta and Cameron. “We loved the atmosphere from the first time we came and (my daughters) were very, very small. It’s such a community thing and it feels so safe and it’s just a lot of fun.”

Dan Prokop and Diane Mackie traveled all the way from Halifax to attend the festival

“We used to live in Barrie, and that’s how we got stuck there,” Prokop said. “We moved to Halifax and (the festival is) the main attraction that brings us back.

“Most years we didn’t know the entire cast, actually quite a few people in the cast, but we always find some artists who rock and we want to follow them after that,” Mackie said. “The best part is just the atmosphere, you know, everyone’s stressed coming through the gate and now here we are – it’s cold.”

Mayor Steve Clarke, Simcoe North MP Adam Chambers and MPP Jill Dunlop, Lorraine McRae and Pam Carter addressed the crowd to open the festival.

“It’s wonderful to be back in person after two and a half years of lockdown and a pandemic,” Mayor Clarke said. “There are many great events and festivals in Orillia, but is there one bigger than Mariposa? I do not think so.”

Dozens of artists will perform over the weekend and ’60 in 60′, featuring Orillia’s own Lance Anderson, opened the program on Friday in recognition of 60 years of music.

Clarke also nodded to the organizers and the hundreds of volunteers who made the event possible.

“That’s because…the volunteers, the cast, the people behind the scenes who handle the logistics, and of course the cast and the wonderful performers—you just can’t do it without them. A special thanks to Pam and her team, including the Mariposa board for the last two years, for keeping this alive.”

Pam Carter, events coordinator and president of the Mariposa Folk Festival Foundation, said she couldn’t personally remember the last time the festival sold out.

“This is the first in my experience and I spoke to one of the longtime volunteers and he said the last time he can remember was in 1988,” she said Orillia Matters. “I think it speaks to the celebration of coming back to life (music). Everyone is ready, post the pandemic we are ready to get back together – community engagement and just a fun weekend.

“Production, artists, volunteers, sponsors, patrons, the community…everyone has been impacted in different ways, and getting back together as a family is incredible,” she said.

In addition to returning as an in-person event, the Mariposa Hall of Famer will induct Gordon Lightfoot from Orillia as the newest inductee as part of Sunday night’s celebrations.

The festival also celebrates its 60th anniversary on its return, which would have been celebrated in 2021 but for the COVID-19 restrictions.

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