The 2014 edition of the Ottawa Folk Festival (now known as CityFolk) proved once again that a few good ideas, under the right management, can go a long way to achieving success. It’s true the festival industry has flourished in the last decade, with a lot of promoters throwing their hats in the ring, but it takes more than a large field and bunch of bands to succeed. Yes, the line-up is crucial — it has to have wide appeal and include name recognition, but there’s more to it than that. And yes, location is important—it has to be accessible, but there are other key pieces to the puzzle.
“We decided to offer a more unique overall experience to our patrons in 2014,” said the festival’s artistic director Mark Monahan. “The line-up came together nicely and seemed to resonate with music fans, but I feel what set us apart was the free programming, which was extremely popular. “The response was great,” added Monahan. Festival organizers also introduced a Food Truck Rally, a more interactive approach to workshop ‘sessions’ with some real star power, and brought back their popular KIDSZONE, all free to the general public.
Ultimately, more than 50,000 people showed up to enjoy some great late-summer festival activities and stellar music performances with stand-out sets by Foster the People, Lorde, Serena Ryder, The National, Blue Rodeo, Joss Stone, and even the Wiggles and Fred Penner to make it truly family friendly.
“It was a lot of fun, but I have to admit it’ll be nice of take a couple of days off before we start working on next year’s festival,” said Monahan. And likely, to start cooking up a few more novel approaches to staging one of Ottawa’s most popular events.