I am getting pretty exited about the summer solstice and the 40th ANNUAL North Country Fair. The North Country Fair is celebrated along the shores of the Lesser Slave Lake – the largest lake in Alberta. I moved there in 1971 with 6 dear friends and a $600 investment to be a “one seventh equal and undivided owner” of a 160 Acres (65 Hcts.) of Northern Alberta bush, meadows and a 4 bedroom house! We were “back to the land.”
We always made an effort to reclaim the Summer Solstice as a focal celebration of the gift of being able to spend a summer in the Boreal Forest. We had great ‘bush (and hiding from rain) parties’ before the Fair. In 1979, we decided to do a ‘real folk festival’. We first partnered with the Joussard Sports Association to charge a few bucks at the gate, hire some bands, talked our friends into doing something ‘alternative’ – AND add fireworks, sports events and of course new and emerging musicians. The Fair became known by the some of the locals as ‘Hippy Daze” and generations of kids have grown up camping at the Fair.We never lost money in the early days – but never made much either! Later the North Country School added its own benefits and obligations!
The most incredible story of the NCF must be the purchase of the land. 1400 acres of the Driftpile River Valley and adjacent slopes. Now the Fair had a permanent home. Every year I look across the North Saskatchewan River at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and much as I love the music, the staggering number of volunteers and heavy equipment needed to move them in and out every year (for a weekend affair), makes me VERY grateful for a permanent site.
As a 40th Fair celebration/archive I created the shell of TikiWiki at northcountryfair.ab.ca. I thought that generations of North Country Folks – including kids and grandkids, (being net-savy) would be dying to upload all their photos and stories – NOT. I should have learned the lesson that it a lot easier to set up a ‘new tech’ solution than to populate it!. Wikipedia shines as the great exemplar, but alas, the number of special purpose or spin off Wikis that match its breadth and participation are VERY few – like none!.
But I don’t feel badly though. I learned how to set up and then move a wiki site and even the skeleton Wiki that I have created at northcountryfair.ab.ca has lots of interesting stuff.
On top of that I get to go and work the ‘History” tent at the Fair and hear about (and maybe tell a few) amazing stories that have evolved over 40 annual celebrations of the Solstice in the Northern Alberta bush.