Organizer of the Wood Mountain Folk Festival, Judy Mergel, is busy lining up the 2nd annual musical event that she hosts on her ranch near Wood Mountain.
Mergel and her committee are thrilled to announce that the festival has been expanded to two days, August 24 and 25, and they are making a commitment to going “green”.
Her focus right now is getting the word out of her artists line-up for the weekend. She talked about the two headliners for the 2012 festival. “They’re danceable.” she said of headliners Little Miss Higgins and Petunia and the Vipers.
Mergel attended a “Little Miss Higgins” concert in Gravelbourg for the grand opening of the Gaiety Theatre. “It was Halloween and the dance area was packed with clowns, witches and cartoon characters.”
Little Miss Higgins, with her band, will headline the Saturday, August 25 program. Little Miss Higgins who was born in Brooks, Alberta and spent most of her life in the US, currently makes her home in Nokomis, Saskatchewan.
Since her return to Canada, she has released 5 CDs, the last one, “Across the Plains” captured a 2011 Western Canadian Music Award for “Outstanding Blues Recording.”
Vancouver’s “rock-a-billy” band Petunia and the Vipers will headline Friday’s program. After their first, self-titled CD was released in 2011, the Georgia Straight Newspaper declared “This may well be the Vancouver roots music release of the year.” As far as “danceability”, a press review by Jodie Ponto Photography of Vancouver announced “the fact is, I would bring both by father and hard-to-please hipster sister to a Petunia and the Vipers show and I don’t know of any other band that could bring out the old folks and young folks to boogie down together on a community hall dance floor in the middle of a city on a Saturday night.”
Petunia is a guy, and yes, he yodels, in true Jimmie Rodgers style, says Mergel.
The expansion of the event to a two-day function will allow for a greater variety of music. Mergel announced “Ed Peekeekoot, a First Nations musical legend will open the festival, the Campagnes of Willow Bunch will be returning as will local stand-out, Gina Stewart.”
“Juno award winning blues guitarist Ken Hamm will perform as will Saskatoon’s Rosie and the Riveters, Regina’s Norman Walker, Lonesome Weekends, Back of the Bus and the Lazy MKs. Doug Rawling of the Alberta bluegrass band, the Rawling Brothers will take the stage with his band, “The Caraganas”. They will also host a country gospel hour during the Sunday morning pancake breakfast. A number of locals will round out the artists line-up.” said Mergel.
Back to the festival, will be the 9th annual Wood Mountain Farmer’s Market. “It will run all day Saturday on a site next to the folk festival site. It will be free to the public, and will have its own entertainment stage. It is hoped that this stage will be powered by solar panels, one of the festival committee’s “green initiatives”.
Other green initiatives will be cooking-oil fueled generators, better solar lighting, and better sorting of garbage for recycling purposes.
Mergel said that recycled paint will be used on the signs which will be larger and more numerous to help festival-goers find the Mergel Ranch, the site of the event.
“Everyone will be happy to see a new route to reach the site! No one will be crossing the creek this year!” promises Mergel.
“Something else that’s new will be professional security.” said Mergel. She also reminds guests that, once again, alcohol will not be sold at the event. “This decision last year, resulted in a family-friendly event with a crowd of very pleasant people who left very little garbage to clean up.” she said.
Besides music, Mergel says the festival offers plenty of family fun. “The adjoining hayfield will be designated for kite-flying and festival-goers are encouraged to bring their kites. Hiking trails will again be available. Hill-climbing was a popular activity at the first annual event.” said Mergel.
The same as last year, free on-site “no-services” camping will be offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday. “Last year, the majority of the “attendees” camped, even locals brought campers or set up tents.” said Mergel.
The 2011 event battled Mother Nature, with two large storms moving through. “A big change from last year, will be good weather!” said Mergel. She confided that a friend of hers, a Lakota Elder, said the reason the two storms hit the festival was because they had failed to have a blessing at the opening of the festival. “We won’t be making that mistake this year,” said Mergel.
Festival tickets will go on sale on June 1, and will be available at the kick-off, early-bird cabaret that will be held in Rockglen on June 2. “Music will be provided by the Adrienne Gaudry Band, so bring your dancing shoes,” said Mergel.
Mergel reminds everyone that the festival in on Facebook and on the web at www.mergelranch.com.
“Just like the successful First Annual Wood Mountain Folk Festival, the 2012 festival promises to be ‘a feast for the ears, a feast for the eyes,” concluded Mergel.