Mariposa Folk Festival (2016)

 by Pat Cascagnette

One of the longest running folk festivals in North America, the Mariposa Folk Festival is beginning its 56th year building on an amazing legacy. Mariposa is renowned for its wide range of folk/roots artists, with 100+ performances of every kind on its 11 stages that showcase music, dance and spoken word – but there’s lots more going on than that at the Mariposa Folk Festival! Much of the folk music events and programming invites audience participation of all ages exposing, engaging and educating patrons in folk culture.

the Artisans’ Village

We have an entire community of folk artisans nestled in the trees, displaying and selling their beautiful and unique handcrafted works, including: jewellery, musical instruments, soaps, paintings, apparel, pottery, glass, carving, weaving, candles and much more.

Hands-On Experiences

Get out of your comfort zone and try something new! Learn and grow at Mariposa by participating in many of our popular interactive workshops; join a drum circle; make a craft; write a song; dance; paint… let your creativity flow!

Enjoy a Cold One

Mariposa’s Pub Tent is a happening and lively place. Have a beer, cooler or glass of wine. Listen to the music on the Pub Tent stage or meet and chat with friends on the sidelines!

We Have Great Food!

Mariposa takes great care to ensure that only the best food vendors are at the Festival, providing a variety of choices for all tastes, regardless of your dietary needs or preferences.

Soak in the Scenery

The Gordon Lightfoot Trail (part of the Trans Canada Trail) runs through forested and open areas of Tudhope Park. View Golden Leaves, a 13-foot bronze sculpture depicting Gordon Lightfoot as he would have appeared on the cover of the 1975 greatest hits compilation, Gord’s Gold. Wander to the beach, visit the Stephen Leacock Museum, or explore downtown Orillia.

Studio Point Painting Works

Studio Point is an intimate spot where artists, art aficionados and hobbyists can drop by to observe and learn from accomplished painters. Child-friendly, create your own masterpiece (brushes and paints supplied). Studio Point runs from 2:00 to 4:00 Saturday and Sunday.

Mariposa Emporium

Take a memory of the Mariposa Folk Festival home with you! Find CDs and other merch from past and present folk artists who appear at the Mariposa Folk Festival. You may also luck out and find that last addition to your collection of hard-to-find music. Mariposa souvenir shirts and other memorabilia is also available. Artist autograph sessions are also held here.

Yoga Tai Chi in the Morning

Start your day right and transform your body and mind. Your participation will enable you to fully enjoy and blend into the spirit of the festival. All ages and abilities welcome!  Starts at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Folkplay for Kids

Our Folkplay area is a festival-within-a-festival for children and those young at heart. There are many amazing participatory activities and crafts for kids that include: interactive concerts on the Sunshine Stage, making garlands, dancing, experimenting with musical instruments, face painting, bubble making, kite flying and water fun.

Onsite Audience Camping

Enjoy the full Folk Festival experience. Pitch a tent or park your RV and stay put for the whole wonderful weekend.

Open your Mind

Mariposa welcomes many community groups and non-profit organizations to the festival. The organizations exhibiting in our Community Village are carefully selected to provide a diverse and balanced educational experience. Check them out and learn more about the world around you.

Go for a Dip

The festival is surrounded by the clear, clean, soothing water of Lake Couchiching. Bring your bathing suit and a towel, and cool off in Moose Beach – the supervised beach and play area.


Philippa Wild

by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Philippa 'Pip' Wild

Fifty Years Young... (This article was written six years ago - 2010 and reflects only the experience that year.)

The Mariposa Fold Festival is fifty years old this year and it's pretty much the granddaddy of Canadian folk festivals. It took place July 9, 10,and 11 of this year in Orillia. That's where it originated, although it spent a few years on Toronto Island a few years ago. Attending the festival, I got a blast from the folk past and a look at the future of folk music.

So Much To Chose From!

Eight stages showcased a huge variety of acts. I saw pure folk, folk with some rock licks thrown in and some country music with a twist of folk (Which is how I'd describe Ian Tyson's "What Does She See in an Old Cowboy Like Me?", the first song I heard as I walked in, being performed not by Ian but by a young woman who clearly loves the retro sounds of country folk). With so many musical acts performing at any one time, the hard part was choosing among a lot of great talent. There were folk veterans like Rick Fines, Suzie Vinnick, and the Whiteley Brothers. Young talent like Serena Ryder and Little Miss Higgins, the second name being new to me but one that I want to follow. She's fun and fresh and her music is infectious. And if you wanted more than music, there was clog dancing, poetry readings and artisans workshops.

Four Icons of Canadian Music Performed...

Four icons of Canadian music headlined the final concert at the main stage: Murray McLaughlin, Sylvia Tyson, Ian Tyson and Gordon Lightfoot. The chance to see them all at the same event was what brought me to the Mariposa Folk Festival. What a slice of music history! Murray sings what he feels, straight from the heart. Sylvia remains a terrific songwriter and singer, and yes, she's still beautiful. Ian has had vocal problems over the last year or two, but he still can write the songs and he sure can deliver them. Before the appearance of Gordon Lightfoot, the show closer, a surprise act was introduced, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo, who got great audience reaction. Finally Lightfoot wowed them with, among other crowd favourites, "Canadian Railroad Trilogy".

Up Close...

I was lucky enough to see Ian and Sylvia and Murray at smaller stages during the day where they played with lesser known performers for smaller audiences. Also on smaller stages I enjoyed Lynn Miles and Caitlin Hanniford who did a dynamite duet on the old Louvin brothers classic "My Baby's Gone". A particularly touching moment for me was Catherine MacLellan's performance of "Snowbird" by her late father, Gene MacLellan. Another high point of the Mariposa Folk Festival was A Celebration of the Music of Oscar Brand, who's 90 and has been making music for over 60 years. He has recorded just under 100 albums, and his best known song is "Something To Sing About, This Land Of Ours".

Worth the Price of Admission!

The atmosphere itself was almost worth the price of admission. It was crowded. All ages and stages of life were represented, including grandparents with grandkids, boomers in Birkenstocks and tie dyes, young people with tattoos and backpacks, parents with toddlers, and one young mother breast feeding her baby, taking me right back to the garden of Woodstock.

There was plenty of food from a variety of vendors. The line up for hot dogs was endless so I settled for samosas (delicious) so I could hurry back to the music. Artisan vendors sold jewellery and handicrafts, many made from local materials. The pub looked like fun, and offered non-stop live music, but it was always full so I listened from outside on the grass.

Last but not least, the setting was perfect. Breezes from Lake Couchiching cooled this beautiful waterfront park on a scorcher of a day. The rain fell and the ground got muddy, but nobody cared. The crowd that left the Mariposa Folk Festival at midnight on Sunday looked tired and completely happy. They certainly had every reason to be.