Skip to content
Sponsored Content

Mariposa Folk Festival provides something for everyone

The 2024 Festival will run from July 5-7

The Mariposa Folk Foundation has been promoting and cultivating incredible folk art in Canada for more than 60 years, with the Folk Festival as its main means to achieve their mission. 

The Mariposa Folk Festival announcement of artists for their July 5-7, 2024 iteration was nothing short of spectacular. 

“This festival has constantly evolved over the years, and we’ve balanced staying relevant while being true to our roots. We have over 64 artists this year, with a great mix of legacy artists, new artists and artists appealing to a younger demographic,” says Foundation President and Festival Coordinator Pam Carter. 

“We focus on sustainability and versatility, and have acts popular with young adults, families, and everything in between. Our volunteers are often multi-generational, and it’s amazing to see full families getting involved. Artists we bring in reflect old favourites, people we think can be new favourite artists, and injecting some emerging performers as well.” 

This year features a stunning lineup including Old Crow Medicine Show, Bahamas, Band Of Horses, Bruce Cockburn, Noah Cyrus, William Prince, Shad, Ben Caplan, The Secret Sisters, Jesse Cook and more. But the festival wasn’t always embraced in the area. 

“In the early 60s the festival got to the point where fans outnumbered the people living in Orillia , and in 1964 it  was asked to leave. Mariposa was hosted in many venues including Maple Leaf Stadium Toronto Island and Barrie as well,” she said. 

“But in 2000, the festival returned to Orillia, and found municipal councillors got involved, and we saw a lot of community support. Gordon Lightfoot headlined that year and waived his fee. He’s from Orillia, and people came out in droves to see him ensuring a successful return of the festival,” she said. 

“We have been supported by this community for nearly 25 years, with many fans, volunteers and businesses participating. It’s really wonderful to see.” 

To Carter, the volunteers are like family, and to see everyone involved work together to put on something so incredible is important. 

“To see everyone rally around this event is incredible. There were volunteers who followed this festival wherever it went. To see businesses and sponsors get involved, and to have over 750 volunteers a year is really heartwarming,” she said. 

“People have been so supportive of the lineup this year and ticket sales have taken off. We have a reputation of delivering, and people really love having us here. We are one of the longest-running folk festivals in North America, and our longevity speaks to our popularity.” 

Artistic Director Spencer Shewen is also consistently surprised and humbled by the support the festival sees in Orillia. 

“It’s amazing to come into something with such a storied, celebrated history. This is so important to the Canadian music history and scene. Seeing the support is incredible,” he said. 

“Many hands make light work, and people put love into it. To see how people regard the festival is unmatched.” 

Shewen started mid-November 2023 with Mariposa, and has seen a lineup he’s really happy with come together. 

“This lineup is really wonderful. There’s a good focus this year on songwriters, it’s an eclectic grouping, and I can’t wait to have them working together in workshops, and to see what comes out of that,” he said. 

“People are also going to see many names that they’re familiar with but there’s an incredibly strong contingent of developing acts to be discovered. The festival discovery piece is so important to me. To see people celebrating music, storytelling, and being together is crucial. But the impact festivals have on an artist’s career is astounding. Finding new fans in this atmosphere is so cool.” 

He’s always thinking about the future in festival work, and knows it’s always big to have a rolling list of artists. 

“Some artists we wanted this year didn’t work out for various reasons. This doesn’t mean that the conversation is over, we will often keep talking and maybe you’ll see them next year or the year after. I’m already planning 2025, and I’m always on the lookout for the future,” he said. “With Riverfest Elora, the Flaming Lips were a three-year conversation before we were able to make it happen. Artistic Direction and festivals is all about coordination, collaboration and patience.” 

Shewen is excited for people to see and enjoy everything Mariposa has in store. 

“Workshops and sets start early, and there will be amazing pairings of artists collaborating together. Unique experiences to see artists in this context is going to be so fun. This is an exciting lineup, with some all-time favourites but also showcasing a new generation of songwriters. People will love what we have coming,” he said. 

To learn more about the festival and lineup, visit them online here.