Nova Scotia's Annual Treasury of Sight and Sound
Around the world, there are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and there are music festivals, but the combination of the two is unique in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. For 30 years, the colorful city midway along the south shore has hosted the Folk Harbour Festival, a combination of scenic venues, top notch music and warm community hospitality.
For four days in August some of folk music's most prestigious musicians and emerging novices perform at churches, halls, parks, and other venues scattered around the picturesque village. Daily sessions run simultaneously, up to six at a time, offering attendees the challenge of picking out whom to hear and part of the fun is bouncing up and down the colorful village's hilly streets between venues.
Colorful buildings line main streets of the UNESCO Heritage town.
Many homes are built with the city's characteristic protruding front bay "Lunenburg bump."
CONCERTS ALL DAY
Starting in the mornings the festival features sessions, lectures, and workshops where participants can try out their skills at Celtic dance, harmonizing, flamenco, guitar.
Reminiscing about the festival's history, co-founder Bill Plaskett discusses "Thirty Years of Folk Harbour" with fiddler Jeff Davis and host Marilyn Keddy.
The Stanfields' Jason McIsaac and Katey Day lead a Folk guitar Workshop for strummers of all ages.
Participants clap and stomp in a flamenco workshop led by dancers of Compania Azul.
Come afternoon, families spread out blankets and picnic during free concerts held at the charming bandstand in the park or perch on bleaches at the wharf to watch performers with the backdrop of ships sailing by. In the evening up to a thousand people assemble for main stage events in the white tent atop a hill overlooking the harbor. The days wind up just around midnight , when diehard audience members, young and old, gather to hear musicians performing in intimate "nightclub" sessions presented in the comfortable lounge of the Lunenburg Curling Club.
Musicians welcome the scattered brief half hour daytime appearances and audience members appreciate the opportunity to sample different groups and to catch favorite acts more than once.
Performers at the wharf have a seascape setting. Christine Lavin and John White held forth in the sea air.
Trio Bembe played Latin beats.
The Stanfields brought a rock/roots rhythm.
The evening concerts were launched by beloved "old timers" group Starb'ard Side.
Memphis Blues Challenge "Best Solo Performer" Matt Andersen highlights main stage opening night.
Whimsical, droll singer-songwriter John Gorka and Jimmy Rankin of the renowned Nova Scotia Rankin Family ensemble were among notable performers in 2015.
Totally rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2001, historic St. John's Church is a setting for daytime concerts.
Connie Kaldor's family group performed under the stained glass windows.
All performers "on deck" for Sunday morning's annual Canadian Heritage Mainstage Gospel Concert. Audience members contribute food and contributions to local charities.
COMMUNITY PITCHES IN
The festival is a total community effort in the harboxr town of 2300 people. Local teens and residents collect tickets and pick up musicians from the Halifax airport. Churches sponsor suppers of seafood and haddock chowders. Households put up performers in their homes, and part of every performance includes the musicians thanking their local billeters who "put me up and put up with me!!" Hospitality pervades the town, and encountering favorite musicians on the street between gigs offers a chance to chat and thank them face to face.
JJ Guy and Gordon Stobbe perform an impromptu concert for restaurant guests.
SIGHT SEE IN LUNENBURG
Additional activities for visitors are staying in one of the town's charming traditional hotels, stocking up on local fish and berries at Thursday morning's extensive farmers market, shopping at the art galleries and craft shops along the city streets, and touring the town in a horse-drawn carriage.
The 2016 festival, the 31st annual, is scheduled for August 4-7.
Local fruits and vegetables are sold at Thursday morning's Farmers Market.