The Campground Host Experience During Folkfest at Bird’s Hill Provincial Park

Folkfest begins today. The campground will be completely full and the group camping sites for Folkfest will also be full. Strangely enough, the event means little to no work for the campground hosts and a quiet week. Folkfest organizers basically rent the space and their staff and volunteers run everything. A shuttle bus runs to and from the campground to the Folkfest site. Virtually all the people staying the campground are here to attend Folkfest. They get up early, hop on a bus, and vanish. They get back late and immediately fall asleep exhausted. No one comes by asking us for directions for a lovely nature walk. No one wants to know how to get to the beach. There are no lost children needing to be reunited with their parents. No one wants the WIFI password. All of that activity is happening at the Folkfest site and is being handled by Folkfest staff.

The park interpreters we normally work with have decided to try something new to attract the “folkies” attention. They are doing a traveling show that will stop at places like the shuttle bus stops and try to do their job of education and interpretation in short bursts while the folkies have to stand around anyway and wait for the shuttle. They don’t need our help for their traveling show. They are not even going to try to hold the more usual activities. Experience has shown no one will show up. They are all at Folkfest.

One of the disadvantages of Folkfest is that the population in the area increases into the tens of thousands and for the five days Folkfest is in operation the cell phone towers are overloaded. This means cell phone service, mobile internet including the park WIFI, and private services like MTS and Rogers crawl and frequently die. The other disadvantage is that the east gate is closed to traffic and while exiting is easy, entry is complicated by long waits and longer lines, particularly on opening day. We will not be leaving the park unless we really have to because it will be so hard to get back in. Thus, we are in for a quiet week even though the campground is full. Hopefully we can get a lot of writing done, since there is nothing else to distract us.

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