Edmonton Folk Festival is a Model Green Event

edmonton-folk-festivalBeginning in 1980 with one staff and 300 volunteers, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival has grown and matured to become one of the leading folk festivals in the world. This year’s festival features Loreena McKennitt, Bruce Cockburn, The Avett Brothers, Rosanne Cash, Feist, and many more.

It is also a model green event. Since the 1980s, its team of volunteers have included an environmental crew, and every year, the festival finds ways of tweaking its ways of reducing waste.The environmental crew now includes 12- to 15-year-old “Enviropower” volunteers, who pick up trash each morning on Gallagher Hill, where the festival is held. There is a volunteer kitchen enviro crew, a beer garden enviro crew, a crew that picks up trash in the neighbourhood streets surrounding the site, and a volunteer-run secure bike area to encourage cycling to the festival. Some cash registers run on solar power, compact fluorescent lightbulbs are used wherever possible, and volunteers who don’t bring their own reusable water bottle and coffee cup simply go thirsty.

One of the festival’s most effective green initiatives is the reusable plate program, which has been in place for a few years and was an idea the Folk Fest stole from the Vancouver folk music festival, says volunteer coordinator Vicki Fannon. Folk Fest purchased thousands of Melmac plates and “sells” them to the concession stands for $2 a plate. Customers pay an extra $2 for the plate when they purchase food. They then return the plate to a plate booth once they’re done, and receive a $2 refund. The plates are washed on site, and the cycle continues.

The 2013 Folk Fest marks the fourth year of a partnership with Cleanit Greenit, an Edmonton composting company, to reduce food waste. The festival stipulates that all concessions use only biodegradable packaging — this means corn-based cutlery, glasses, and straws — and Cleanit Greenit turns all of this organic waste into compost. As a result, almost nothing gets thrown out, and what does gets sorted by Edmonton’s cutting-edge Waste Management Centre.

Information in the Folk Fest program booklet and on the giant screens set up on the hill educate people on the plate program and recycling and compost stations, but for the moment, “compost supervisors” remain stationed next to bins to ensure everything ends up where it should.

Edmonton Gets Hot with Ice on Whyte!

ice on whyte 2If you’re not familiar with the Edmonton area, then you might think the ‘Ice on Whyte’ moniker is either misspelled or an attempt to create a new version of an old word that sounds young, hip, and kewl. Rest assured, it’s spelled this way for neither of these reasons.

The festival is called ‘Ice on Whyte’ because it pays homage to the city’s famed Whyte Avenue, a popular street that is often brewing with fun and entertainment.

Celebrating its 10th year in action, the festivities run from January 25 – February 3, and feature a wide range of winter sights, sounds, and activities to highlight both the snow, ice, land, and people!

Originally created in 2003 by a group of individuals who wanted to showcase the fabulous art of ice carving, the event has blossomed to include all aspects of winter fun. Held in the popular area known as Steel Park or Festival Park, on 85th Avenue and 104 Street (not too far from Whyte Avenue itself), the hoopla is near impossible to miss because it fills the entire space with gorgeous, brightly-lit ice sculptures in addition to tons of live entertainment, food, and family fun.

Yet, the heart of the festival is still the famed international ice carving competition – which was officially endorsed by the National Ice Carving Association in 2009– the world’s preeminent authority on ice carving standards and art.

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During the competition, 10 teams of two will chip away at 15 blocks of ice (per team) for 2.5 days (35 hours total). Using these blocks, they’ll create one sculpture that must be 3.18 meters high and sculpted on all sides. All 15 blocks must be used, and snow made from the carving may also be used in the sculpture. In addition, there are no props, decorations or ice colouring allowed – this is serious ice carving my friend.

Visitors can also expect to find snow sculptures, a giant ice slide, a children’s play area, live music, entertainment and ice carving workshops too.

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No wonder the festival won the Alberta Tourism Award in the Alberta Pride Category in 2012!
Suffice to say, even though the event will bring the big chill in many ways, it is still among one of the hottest festivals in Canada this season!

Now that’s the Whyte stuff!

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