After Toronto (please see Oh, Canada! Part 1), we headed north to Orillia for the Mariposa Folk Festival. Ever since we had talked about this festival with Greg, Carol, and their friends, we knew we wanted to go!
We were smart and headed up to Orillia on Thursday, ahead of the weekend crowd. From what I understand this part of Ontario is the start of “cottage country”, with lots of people getting out of the city to spend time at their weekend cabins.
Orillia is about an hour and a half drive from Toronto and is situated by Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. I noticed lots of things named Simcoe, so I did my research and found out that John Simcoe was a British army general and first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada. So why did this sound so familiar to me, a Yank? For those who watched the series Turn, it is that John Simcoe. And if you haven’t seen it put it on your list!
The Mariposa Folk Festival is a big deal for this small community, and we were lucky to get a room at the Best Western Plus Mariposa Inn & Conference Centre. There is another Best Western very close to the festival that would be a better choice, but it books up fast.
We decided to check out the area. The festival is held at J.D. Tudhope Memorial Park, next to Lake Couchiching. It’s a beautiful setting. For those interested in a little gambling, Casino Rama is just a few miles away. I decided to donate a few dollars, and we struck up a conversation with a friendly bartender who steered us to Quayle’s Brewery. The beer was really good! It was a gorgeous day to sit outside.
The next day we met up with Greg, Carol, and their friends. Greg was our driver the first half of the day, to show us all of the ins, outs, and secrets of getting around Orillia and the festival. This is his old stomping grounds, so he really knew his way around! Armed with this “secret” knowledge, we felt comfortable enough to drive ourselves to the festival.
In addition, Greg used to be on the board of this great festival, and knew practically everybody! It was great to be with an “insider”! In addition, Greg surprised Tim with a VIP pass so he could rub elbows with some of the performers 🙂
Tim and I have been to many music festivals, and Mariposa really shines compared to the others! Two things stood out – (1) It is a family-friendly event, with alcoholic drinks limited to two areas; (2) Everything they sell is eco-friendly, and they even have trash attendants to make sure you dispose of items in the correct bin.
The food was definitely top notch – excellent food trucks with a variety of different cuisines catering to pretty much whatever you would want.
I should add that Canadians are some of the friendliest and trustworthy people I have ever met. We would set up our chairs at the main stage early in the day, even leaving some items at our seats (like t-shirts or sweatshirts) and didn’t have to worry about chairs or items being moved or stolen. Maybe we are just overly cautious here in the States, but that is something I would normally not do.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday were exceptionally beautiful days to hear music! Most (but not all) of the performers are from Canada, and although I was familiar with some of them, it was great to discover some “new to me” musicians! The highlights were Kathleen Edwards, The Strumbellas, Blue Rodeo, Allison Russell, and Gordon Lightfoot (who by the way is from Orillia, and was being inducted into the Mariposa Hall of Fame). We discovered Irish Mythen and Susan O’Neill – if they are performing in your area go see them! Irish’s personality actually reminds me of my cousin Kim Still – if you know Kim, then you know you would love Irish! Tommy Prine, Mavis Staples, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, The Small Glories, The Arrogant Worms, and Serena Ryder – all wonderful performers!
I am so happy we decided to venture outside of our comfort zone and attend this wonderful festival – I could definitely see us doing it again! The music, location, and especially the people were unforgettable 🙂
After the festival was over, we drove to Niagara Falls. More to come!