Creatures, musicians and food: a Folk Festival guide for the perplexed

by Aidan Morgan

folkWith the possible exception of the guy who tries to sell me drugs by muttering “pot-pot-pot-pot-pot-pot” like some species of weed-vending bird as I pass through Victoria Park on my way to the library, the Regina Folk Festival is the greatest thing to happen to Regina in the summer. Now in its 45th year of operations, the festival has shaped the musical and cultural tastes of generations, supported the arts and generally made the city a better place to live.

But none of this answers the question that’s uppermost on all of our minds: what about the monsters? Here’s how I imagine an interview with the festival’s artistic director, Sandra Butel, would go:

Imaginary Sandra Butel: I’m sorry, what are you asking about?

Me: The monsters that haunt the festival. I’m just looking for a comment.

Monsters? Like… capitalism? The constant encroachment of private industry on public space? Colby Richardson?

Colby Richardson is no monster. He’s hilarious. Tall like a monster, but hilarious.

Agreed! But I really don’t understand what you’re asking me.

You know what I’m talking about.

I’m hanging up now.

Sandra. Sandra.


I thought you said you were hanging up.


See? Ask the hard questions and you get stonewalled. Fortunately I’ve done my own digging and have unearthed a comprehensive guide to the monsters of the RFF.

Sea Monsters

As it turns out, there are no sea monsters at the Regina Folk Festival. No Krakens, no giant clams, no vengeful whales in dry-land gear bent on eliminating the surface dwellers (that’d be us). Nothing tentacled, barnacled, finned or gilled to contend with.

This comes as a relief to many, but may disappoint British Columbia’s The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer. Noted more for their music than their harpooning and axe murdering, the sudden presence of a colossal squid or ichthyosaur might give them an opportunity to test their off-label skills.

It’s possible that Mo Kenney and Joel Plaskett Emergency will prove to be a vector for sea monster contamination. A determined flounder or octopus may have stowed away with them. Or they may themselves be sea monsters disguised as talented musicians. Look for the telltale signs: strands of kelp, the smell of brine, mysterious tanks of sea water, tentacles with paralytic stingers.


Good news, non-werewolves: the full moon falls on August 11 this year, so the RFF will likely be spared the plague of hairy wolf-people howling through the main stage acts and getting rowdy at the beer gardens. Instead, be prepared for hairy people-people (me, Neil McDonald, others). And while there may be no werewolves, there’s always Los Lobos capping off the festival on Sunday night.

The Main Stage

Further research is needed to confirm this, but I have it on good authority that the main stage is actually a gigantic Sarlaac-style beast that ritually devours the headline acts. So you should probably see The Sam Roberts Band (Friday), Serena Ryder (Saturday) and Los Lobos (Sunday) while you can, because at the end of each night, the stage will snap shut like a colossal Venus Fly Trap of metal and plastic and hapless roadies.

Plans are afoot to feed the emcees to the main stage in the hope that the beast’s hunger will be satisfied. It’s a strategy that’s worked in previous years, but eventually we’re going to hit Peak Emcee.


No one knows whether any yetis have bought tickets to the festival (RFF, when are you going to have a Yeti checkbox line in your online ticketing process? Aren’t you reading my e-mails?). But they’re likely to be found at the Chill Lounge in the lobby of the Harvard Tower II, an air-conditioned refuge with Charley Hustle, Yin Yoga and a charging station for mobile devices. And that’s the worst joke I’ve ever made.

Food And Arts Market Vendors

This is an opportunity to clear up a longstanding myth. Food vendors are not monsters, those kiosks are not cages, and people aren’t lined up to view them in captivity. With the exception of Cthulhu’s Soul-Fry Shack, the vendors at the Regina Folk Festival are genuine humans, and they make some insanely good food. I’d list them all, but you should go and try as many as you can. You can sample everything from the gelato at Valley Girls Catering to the samosas from Tandoori Kabab or the chicken and waffles at Beak’s Chicken.

Are you full now? Are you? Okay, first buy more food. Then wander over to the Arts Market, where nearly 40 vendors have clothing, jewellery and art for sale. A fun thing to do is to stop at Missing Spoon Jewelry and say “Hey, there’s my spoon!” because it will mark you as a person of refinement and good taste.

On a personal note, it would be wrong of me to say that Patience Custom Catering, with its banana fritters and roti and that unbelievable deep-crimson hot sauce, is the greatest food vendor of all time and space. But they totally are.

Mosquitoes And Wasps

Exoskeletal horrors in tiny airborne form. Mosquitoes hang out in the grass, so you’ll likely be sharing space with them when you lay out a blanket on the ground. Bring mosquito repellent. As for wasps, you can help cut down on those pests by disposing of your garbage in any one of the trash bins on the grounds.


What kind of monster contributes time and work without expecting money in return? These terrifying ticks boring into the skin of capitalism will be all over the festival grounds, taking tickets and wrangling talent and generally doing All The Things. If you’re ever cornered by a volunteer, keep them at bay by waving cash or coins at them. They emit horrible piercing shrieks at the sight of ten-dollar bills.


Children, as we all know, harbour the terror and promise of the future, and as such, each child holds the possibility of destruction or salvation in their hands. What could be more horrifying/adorable than that? Luckily for the human race, the RFF has an entire children’s area, where these tiny time bombs of our loins can enjoy their own entertainment. Street Culture Kidz will once more be on hand with face painting and games, the Children’s Craft Tent will be making masks for kids, and the Canadian Western Agribition will teach kids rodeo skills. So we can expect a horde of masked and painted hooligans roping and hog-tying everyone in sight. Enjoy.

Drunk People

Getting drunk is pretty fun. Being a drunk person is possibly the most entertaining thing an adult can do at a picnic table. But drunk people themselves can be overly loud and prone to vomiting, which is not much fun for the sober people. So as you’re amusing yourself with beer (and cider!) (and wine!) at the Mainstage Rock Garden or Daytime Beer Garden, don’t forget to drink responsibly and throw your compostable cups in the compost bins. Otherwise the children will come with masks and rope. Okay, they’re going to come anyway, but you stand a better chance of escaping their clutches if you’re moderately sober.


What? No. How is a ghost going to wear a festival wristband? It would just fall to the ground and leave a sheepish-looking ghost standing at the gate and holding up the line. Where would a ghost even get money for a ticket? There are no ghost jobs, people. Lol ghosts with jobs.