The theme has always been multicultural. Music of the world. This year, however, the Prince George Folkfest will have a new international connection – not just with its many music genres which take their roots from all points of the globe but with a live cellular feed to Uganda.
Artistic director Jo Beattie, co-founder of the festival which began four years ago, said organizers plan to have artists from Uganda “arrive on stage” on Saturday.
“We are very excited about this,” she said.
“Festival goers will be able to not only experience some outstanding, world-class music on July 27 and 28 but they can also contribute towards a project that’s not only worthwhile but will improve the quality of life for villagers in Africa. We’ve just begun to help raise funds towards the direct building of clean, fresh water wells in northern Uganda.”
UNBC professor (Ecosystem Science and Management) Dr. Chris Opio from Uganda began the Northern Uganda Development Foundation this past year.
“Two wells have already been built in the villages of Ogek and Buga in northern Uganda. The money for those was raised in Prince George by friends and individuals. We are hoping this year to raise money for two more,” said Opio. He’s taught at UNBC for 12 years and, along with his brother, helped organize the fundraising efforts.
“The plan is to have people assemble in Ogek – my brother Geoffrey Odongo will be there – and at 10:15 p.m. Saturday which is 8:15 a.m. Sunday in Uganda and connect with Folkfest people by cell phone. It would have been nice to [transmit] live coverage via satellite and see their faces and hear them live, but Uganda does not have this technology yet. So the next best thing is to have their pictures projected onto a big screen for everyone at Folkfest.”
The connection vial cell phone will take place with Ugandan villagers just before the last act of the evening – The Paperboys – on July 28.
“It will be a special moment for sure,” said Beattie. “We’d really like to encourage people to come out for Folkfest this year.”
Beattie said the two wells already built service 8,000 people.
“They have been built with 100 per cent of monies raised going to the project. The project is supervised by Chris’ brother, a UNBC Alumni and village volunteers. Water sold at the festival NUDF booth will have proceeds going to build another well.
Folkfest artists include Corb Lund, New Orleans Social Club, Watermelon Slim and The Workers, Chad VanGaalen, Amy Millan, The Paperboys, Donne Roberts Band, eccodek, Don Ross, Joel Fafard, Andy McKee, Agnus Lyon and Ruaridh Campbell, The Cottonweeds, The Colin Pearson Trio, cc Hamel, Navaz, Matthew Robinson, Versus Projects. Folkfest opening events kick off Friday, July 27 at 5:30 p.m. at Fort George Park.