History of the Festival

Our Story

Through the 1980’s and 90’s, Mistahiya was a bustling hotbed for winter activity. Both downhill and cross country skiing brought people from all around. Runs were sculpted out of the forests along the river valley, with Mistahiya laying claim to having one of the highest elevations of any ski hill in the area.

Between 2000 and 2010, the owners of Mistahiya got out of the downhill skiing business, and focused their efforts on making Mistahiya a Retreat Centre for fellow nature loving enthusiasts. Before long, Cliff and Kathie Brown collaborated with other music buffs to bring individual acts to the Retreat Centre for evening performances all year round. These shows were well attended by music lovers from around the Lloyd – Wainwright – Vermilion triangle. In some instances, events were held in conjunction with the Vermilion Folk Club, and these too always seemed to attract large followings.

In the colder months, performers would set up in the lower seating area in the lodge, and play to small, intimate (but also quite informed) gatherings. In the summer, the open grass area beside the lodge as well as the large canopied space would be plenty of room to house fans coming to watch multiple stage performances outdoors.

During the winter of 2010-11, the owners wondered if they could rally enough support amongst the local arts community to host a two-day festival on their resort, that involved all music genres. They were strategic in their approach, seeking out folks that had helped organize previous shows at the hill, local musicians, people in administrative roles within the municipalities of Wainwright and Vermilion, and members of the Vermilion Folk Club (VFC). In the end, they had a recruited a core group of ten dedicated volunteers who aspired to bring great music to a great venue.

In 2011, we held our first festival. We created our line-up under the tutelage of the Vermilion Folk Club and we hosted thirteen different acts from all over Alberta – the vast majority of the folk variety. The VFC backed the event financially, and their passion for bringing great live music to east-central Alberta rubbed off on our entire volunteer committee. We coordinated our efforts in many areas: facility preparation, volunteers, sponsorship, promotion and entertainment. We worked hard to attract as much interest in our festival as possible. Also, who on the committee will forget building our stage braces and canopy the night before our show kicked off? How fun! When August 12th rolled around we were ready!

Now, here we are six years later and going strong. Our performers are terrific – they fill our stage with incredible talent. Campfires burn late into the nights – and new friends are made all around the province!

We can’t wait to show you who we have coming this year! Stay tuned.

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