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Rob Altemeyer, MLA Wolseley
June 26, 2013

Winnipeg Folk Festival - 40th Anniversary

I'm very pleased to inform the House that this year, no less than the Winnipeg Folk Festival is celebrating its 40th anniversary. This means that for 40 years musicians from all over the world, volunteers, fans, organizers and so many more have been working together to make this special event happen. The Folk Fest has a unique place in the heart of many Manitobans, including pretty much all of Wolseley, and there isn't anything quite else like it.

This year, more than 80,000 people will flock to Birds Hill Park this July for the Folk Festival from July 10th to the 14th. Performers and musicians come from all over the world to attend, and I'm very pleased that our provincial government provides annual support to the Folk Festival in the range of $90,000 per year, and this year, honouring the 40th anniversary, an additional $10,000 has been made available for special celebrations. This is on top of the $650,000 that has been invested in the site of the Winnipeg Folk Festival at Birds Hill Park for some really exciting site improvements that I'm sure people will enjoy.

For those folks, such as most members opposite, who maybe have never gone to the Folk Festival or don't know what it is, they've actually benefited from it because the Winnipeg Folk Festival generates nearly $30 million in economic activity while supporting 281 jobs right here in Manitoba.

The festival is always evolving as well, Mr. Speaker. This year there will be two new forest stages built right into the park. There's been dozens of more trees planted that will provide shade for patrons for years to come, and I'm pleased to report that my own volunteer crew, which I've been proud to be a part of, is making a noticeable difference in reducing the amount of solid waste the festival has to send to landfill. I've been looking after one of the composting programs with a wonderful crew of volunteers for well over a decade now, and I'm pleased to report that in 2011, even though there were more people on site at the Folk Festival than ever before, we actually reduced the total amount of garbage by 3 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, this year's lineup pays homage to 1974 by bringing back artists like Bob King, Ken Whiteley and Sylvia Tyson, who all played at the very first festival. Some of my favourite homegrown musicians are going to be performing there today...