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Annual festival draws a close-knit community of volunteers and music fans to Manitoba’s Birds Hill Provincial Park

73-year-old John Bell of Morning Glory Woodworking plays one of his cigar box guitars in the Winnipeg Folk Festival's Handmade Village on July 8.Photography by Matt Horseman/The Globe and Mail

Since 1974, the Winnipeg Folk Festival has descended annually upon Birds Hill Provincial Park, about a half-hour drive northeast of the city.

Over those 48 years, the festival has created a close-knit community of volunteers and staff. It’s an environment that inspires music fans of all ages, from teenagers exploring their musical tastes to festival veterans, for whom the gathering offers opportunities to connect with lifelong friends and beloved artists.

The music returned to Birds Hill over this past weekend after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

The moon rises over dense clouds and an open field on the Winnipeg Folk Festival grounds at Birds Hill Provincial Park.

Montreal songwriter Allison Russell opens her set on the first evening of the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
A festival-goer cools off with a fan while dancing to Boy Golden's Friday night set.

Jessie Lemire and Jessica Asplin enjoy folk duo Ocie Elliott's Saturday afternoon set at Spruce Hollow stage on July 9.

20-year-old best friends Rachael Wilkes and Teagan Moulton catch some shade on the festival's sunny Friday afternoon. It's Teagan's first festival but Rachael has been to a few, and says she comes back for, 'the people—the energy everybody gives you when you're here, how welcoming it is.'
Boy Golden's Liam Duncan heads up a twangy set at Big Bluestem stage on the evening of July 8.

25-year-old Madison Leonard of Manitoba rides a horse close to the festival's main stage.

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