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Vancouver Folk Music Festival tips from CBC Radio listeners

07/17/2015 06:19 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival opens in Jericho Park this afternoon. Whether you're new to the scene or attending for the 38th year, here are some do's and don'ts that experienced folkies offered to CBC Radio's The Early Edition.

1. Be nice about that race for space

The race to secure a great blanket spot in front of the main stage is so infamous it has its own name: the "Birkenstock 500".

This is where folkies, looking otherwise serene in flowing dresses and straw hats, run through the park and over the bridge to beat the stragglers to the best view.

It's a tense moment that can put elbows up, but Early Edition listener Kelly Pond reminds us you could spend all day sitting next to your fellow racers.

"Go early, get in line, but make friends — not rivals," she advises.

2. Don't plan too much

You can check the program ahead of time and plan every minute of the three-day event — but several listeners caution against being too organized.

With music on seven stages, leave time to discover something new.

"It's important to wander sometimes and find music without actually looking for it," said Paul Hughes.

What I've learned at the folk fest is to ... stop if I hear something interesting. That's a great way to discover new people," said Jackie Boyer.

Remember, even indie-rock darling Dan Mangan was just a guy singing about robots on Stage 5 a few years ago.

3. Do beware Folk Fest fashion

It can be fun to browse for scarves and baskets in the bazaar outside the gates near Jericho Beach.

But our tipsters caution that what happens at Folk Fest may need to stay there.

"What I have learned is that fur-lined crop top that you think looks so hot on you at the Folk Festival is just going to look really weird on you in real life," said Kristina Notting, calling in to the Early Edition.

4. Don't block the view

This can be a shocker to people moved to dance, but there are specific rules about how and where your body can be — especially during evening performances on the main stage.

If you want a chair, it can't be tall, warns listener Brendan Shields.

Chair legs are regulated — to 4.5 inches or 11.5 cm. Dancers are too.

"When you dance at the folk fest, you always dance off to the side and you make every effort to move all four limbs independently and without any rhythm whatsoever."

He's right about the location, but the style is up to you.

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