By Jasmine Budak -- On this Monday morning I still feel the weekend in my body. My eyes: hot from needing sleep. My neck: kinked from shouldering a heavy beach-bag. My throat: hoarse from carousing. My skin: a little crisp from the steady Subarctic sun. These are the characteristic creaks and cricks that follow Folk on the Rocks, Yellowknife’s much-loved music festival and reliably the summer’s hottest, sunniest, best-ever weekend.
For almost 30 years, FOTR has been held in mid-July on the city’s only reasonable beach. Festival founders had wanted an event that would showcase local artists while exposing them to professional musicians making names in North America or overseas. Locals love it because up here we’re starved for live music (no offence to Yellowknife acts, but sometimes you need shanghai noodles instead potatoes).
Since my first festival in 2002, I’ve looked forward to the next one with panting excitement. Firstly, it’s always hot. Seemingly without fail the weekend manages to pull up its socks, blasting our pale winter-weary bodies with sun (plus a good wind to protect from bugs). And there’s the beer garden, a sandy party-zone where you run into pretty much everyone you know in town. We are all adorable in our goofy hats and sun-burnt noses, most of us overly goopy from all the beer and sun. Here, hours can disappear as you wander in the bliss of aimlessness, bumping into pals, catching up with old ones, slipping into the lake for a bracing swim, eating too many sundaes and salty meats. Trappings aside, the musical lineup is often well-chosen and varied enough to satisfy most tastes. There are the dreamy rockers, the banjo-strumming blue-grassers, the local punk group and their dirty ditties, the smoky-voiced songstresses, the horn-tooting closers.
The headliners aren’t always obvious; we’re not a huge festival. But after a few years in Yellowknife, Folk on the Rocks weekend becomes the best party of the year and summer’s sweltering pinnacle. After a full two days and nights, you’re left feeling bloated yet deflated, and mild depressed. From here the days will only get shorter and the temperatures will begin their slide. And you’ll find yourself already looking forward to the next one.