Winnipeg Folk Fest Correspondent (electronic storyteller) Leif Norman is back with more tales to tell!
The Handmade Village used to be called Rosie’s Village, and if I can actually track her down at this year’s Fest, then I will get the details, because she started the thing. But what’s this over here? It’s a painting by Susan Mitchell of Winnipeg that depicts a Folk Fest night scene and a drum jam and Main Stage hanging in Bob Hanley’s “Ear to the Ground” Drum booth. That’s interesting. Especially since there was an actual Folk Jam going on in Bob’s tent at the time. Bob used to be a Music Teacher and one day, when he was fifty, he had a bit of an epiphany and decided to start making drums and percussion from ceramics. Ceramic drums!
Nigerian Udu’s, and East Indian Jal Tarangs (those are tuned bowls that get played like a Xylophone). He also makes Dragon’s Egg Flutes. Interesting story about those. In 1974, (the same year the Winnipeg Folk Fest started, by the way), a Terra Cotta Warrior Army was dug up in China, and along with it were some little pottery eggs, which turned out to be ancient Ocarina like instruments, and now they are China’s National Instrument. Amazing!
Further down the Handmade Village road is Matt Jenkins and his portable iron working forge. His live demonstration of blacksmithing skills always gathers a crowd; because people love seeing a bearded man smoking a pipe pounding red hot metal on an anvil. The wind was making his tent walls flap a bit too much, so he banged out a few metal tent pegs from the hot coals. Blacksmiths are very handy. I heard him remark “If you give me enough steel wool I could knit you a Volkswagen.”
On the very end of the Village, or the beginning if you like, is Righteous Rags, all the way from Salt Spring Island, home for all things Tie-Dyed, and Batik and Shibori. Steve and Katya have been selling their “Hippie” clothes at the Folk Fest for 27 years, but this year will be their last. They have a grandchild and a “beach on a mountain” back out West that needs some attention. Katya used to go to all the Fests across Canada, but soon decided to only visit the Winnipeg Folk Fest to sell her wares because it was the best. She told me they treat the Vendors very well, the Park is beautiful, and the “tribal vibe” is the best here. People create a true village where everyone dances together, gets dirty together and stays up all night together. This is what people love about Folk Fest and why “Folk Fest” has transformed from a noun to a verb in our vocabulary. This is how people talk about summer in the middle of a Winnipeg winter. I happened to Folk Fest some stories out of the handmade village, and now need to find Rosie for the details. You never know what will happen each July. For example; The reason I started talking to Bob was because he had an Nigerian Udu drum with a One Million $ price tag on it. I fell for it.