If we were going to explain the spirit of Summerfolk in one sentence it would look something like this: “People gathering outside to share music and art”. Visitors find folks doing just that at every one of the seven stages on the festival site, along the paths in the artisan village, and in the campgrounds beside the festival. You find it again just to the north when volunteers transform a soccer field into a friendly village of tents and trailers where flashlights and torches cast shadows on old and new friends telling stories and sharing songs. Across the road at the municipal Kelso Beach Campground, festival goers arrange tarps, tents, and trailers into homes away from home complete with sing-a-longs and decades’ worth of Summerfolk stories.
The spirit of Summerfolk follows the people, moving east to the festival grounds in the day and back to the Kelso Beach Campground when the stages shut down. Musicians and music lovers flock like moths, drawn by the light of bonfires and familiar choruses. Generations of festival goers teach each other songs, pass drinks in thanks, and share stories about their favourite performances from the day. Strangers have been known to pass instruments freely, trade solo’s spontaneously, and send multi-part harmonies drifting up with the smoke towards the stars. There are few places in the world where people who don’t yet know one another’s names can jam and laugh so freely. Sometimes festival performers even drift over with guitars, double basses, and noisemakers from around the world. After all, they’re musicians because they love the music. It’s all part of the spirit that has brought people back to Summerfolk for four decades.
We’re expecting a big crowd for Summerfolk 40 and the City of Owen Sound made 40 additional campsites available at Kelso Beach so that even more campers can share the spirit. If you don’t manage to secure a spot at Kelso Beach, don’t worry. There are other campgrounds in the area. The Harrison Park Campground is only four kilometres to the south (that’s a 7 minute drive or – if you’re not in a rush and prefer to cycle – a 14 minute ride on your bike. Private camping is also available in the surrounding area at Whispering Pines and the local KOA campground (both good options for motor-homes and trailers).