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Mariposa means different things to different people

Folk fest is where memories are made every year

Mariposa means something different to everyone.

Some people fall in love at the festival. Some piggyback on the Grande Dame to celebrate their own milestones. Others are still in their formative Mariposa-memory-making years.

OrilliaMatters caught up with visitors, volunteers and a variety of others to see what makes Mariposa special to them.

Born on the fourth of July

The Mariposa Folk Festival has become Paul Court’s way of celebrating his birthday.

The Orillia artist turned 66 on July 4. Being involved in the arts community, and volunteering with the festival, he sees many of his friends at the festival every year. Seems like a convenient time to celebrate the big day.

“It’s become a tradition,” he said. “They wish me a happy birthday on social media and say they’ll buy me a beer at Mariposa.”

Last year’s Mariposa/birthday celebration “was like an endless party,” Court said.

Mariposa and Court will together celebrate their 59th and 67th birthdays, respectively, in 2019.

Love is in the air

On July 6, 2014, Teri and Paul Brown sealed it with a kiss at Mariposa.

Standing near the point in Tudhope Park, Lake Couchiching sparkling behind them, they were married.

It just made sense to exchange vows at Mariposa.

“This, for us, was the best weekend of the year,” Paul said, “and all of our friends were here.”

The Browns, who are from the area but now live in Jacksonville, Fla., were back in town for this weekend’s festival.

“It feels like home,” said Teri. “Our people are here. It’s beautiful.”

Lucky break

Festival goers aren’t the only ones who feel the love at Mariposa.

The first time he performed at the festival, Zachary Lucky drove from his home in Saskatchewan. That’s when his pedal steel guitar player introduced him to a local woman.

“She had no clue who I was,” Lucky said this weekend.

Lucky hung around, renting a room in Toronto for a month before his new partner headed back to Saskatchewan with him. Now, they are living in Orillia

“Playing here again is great because it’s like coming full circle,” Lucky said. “It’s funny how life works. It’s serendipitous.”

Going out on a local note

Orillia’s Lance Anderson provided festival goers with their final main-stage memories of the year Sunday, when he closed the show with his band, The Matchedash Parish. He did the honours last year, too, with The Last Waltz, a tribute to The Band.

“I got a call from Mariposa, saying The Last Waltz was such a hit last year and would I do something again this year,” Anderson said before his set Sunday. “It means a lot. We’ll have a lot of people I know in the audience. We want it to go well.”

The Matchedash Parish is a 12-piece band that includes Matt Weidinger and Quisha Wint, who joined forces with Anderson for The Last Waltz. Watch for the band’s first album in the fall.

Happy place

Festival goers have the chance to set their itinerary for the weekend, get the full Mariposa experience.

It’s a luxury not afforded to many who work behind the scenes.

Liz Scott, during her first festival as Mariposa’s artistic director, was busy. She tried to take in as much music as possible while also taking care of business.

“I was able, especially by Sunday, to get to a lot of the workshops. I was able to enjoy it,” she said.

For Scott, the highlight was the happiness.

“We built community and it helped people be happy and enjoy themselves for a weekend.”

Trash talk

Forget the water cooler. The trash bins are where the conversation is at.

Known for its impressive waste diversion, Mariposa has volunteers staged at bins throughout the park, ensuring everything goes where it belongs.

“This is the best spot to socialize,” said Leona Beasley, who has been volunteering with the festival for seven years. “Everyone hits the garbage at least once.”

The conversation often involves the festival's focus on waste diversion, as many seem surprised at how little needs to go to the landfill.

“I love telling people that forks are made of cornstarch,” Beasley said with a smile.

A lifetime of memories

Mariposa is known for many things. Alexis Harris-Lee knows two of them particularly well.

“I like the music and the food,” she said.

Harris-Lee, 13, has been attending the festival since she was two years old. While she has enjoyed the variety of music and food, she was zeroed in on one act this weekend: Walk Off the Earth.

“I just love their music,” she said.

The right to remain silent

Police are a fixture at the Mariposa Folk Festival. It must be a pretty good gig, because there are some familiar faces keeping watch over/enjoying the music in the pub tent every year.

One officer who is a regular at the event was invited to share his Mariposa memories with OrilliaMatters. He said he was not authorized to speak with the media.


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Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the desk editor for Village Media's central Ontario news desk in Simcoe County and Newmarket.
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