Monday, July 21, 2008

35th Annual Home County Folk Festival

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at Victoria Park just before 3:00 pm to fill my shift as a volunteer. I walked into the Clarence Street entrance and as I headed toward the bandshell I passed by many vendors still in the process of setting up their tents for displays. Soundchecks were taking place and people busily bustled by.

I soon found that my task was to help two others to prepare the signs that would be needed for each of the nine ‘Eco-Stations’. Each station was equipped with large garbage cans that were meant to sort the waste into compostable, recyclable and landfill items. Our job was to create signs showing actual examples of the items that should go into each different can: styrofoam plates and compostable recycled paper fiber plates, compostable french fry containers and landfill plastic cups, etc.

This is only the second time that this type of operation has taken place in a London festival. Two weeks ago – at Sunfest – the first attempts at reducing landfill waste occurred. In my mind, this type of action should have been taking place twenty years ago! But, then again, I think a lot of things should have happened twenty years ago. The fact that this turned out to be a successful initiative makes me realize that it is never too late to put forth a solid effort to make positive change. It may not have been perfect – and now I’m reminded of an expression “It is better to use a good plan today than realize the perfect plan tomorrow.”

As with any initiative – once you begin to put thoughts into action many unforeseen realizations become apparent. My job was a shining example of that statement. At the Sunfest, the signs they had created caused confusion for many people. They had created signs using words to describe the items that were to be separated into different cans. It became apparent that this was an issue because of all the different languages that are spoken in London – many people had difficulty with the English signs. For this weekend’s festival we created signs using actual paper plates and plastic cups – thus solving the issue by using visual examples.

I learned a lot while I was helping to prepare all of these signs. I learned that there is no longer any need for plastic cups to ever exist. This is fantastic news! Cups and other disposable (I hate that word) items can be made of vegetable products such as cornstarch which makes them bio-degradable. My question is “Why are we still creating pollution using crude oil to create plastics when we no longer need to?”

To make this festival even MORE environmentally friendly patrons could avoid using styrofoam plates and plastic forks all together. Waste Free World was renting plates, cutlery, cups, etc for a small deposit and the deposit was returned when all the items rented were returned. The used plates and cups were then washed using an industrial washing machine that had been inspected for sanitary safety.

These efforts – brought to life with the hearts of organizers and many volunteers - cut the total volume of waste by 25% with close to 1/3 of all the waste being separated for composting.



On Saturday, Joanne and I went raspberry picking. Our freezer is slowly filling. When I was talking to my parents that afternoon they told me that they had set aside a bag of red currants and gooseberries for us – from their garden - so now we only need to stock up on blueberries. We arrived home just before a huge thunderstorm hit the area. I wondered how everyone at the County Folk Festival was coping.


By Sunday afternoon the skies had cleared and Jo’ and I decided to check out the County Folk Festival for ourselves. It was a great time! There were a total of four performance areas and we enjoyed all the entertainers. Like most patrons we eventually found ourselves at the bandshell – mainstage – and a performer was just getting ready to take the stage. I loved the many different ways he played his guitar. He had a unique way of hitting the front and sides of his guitar to create unusual beat rhythms. I was blown away when he began playing Breathe by Pink Floyd.

Between each musical guest Alan Neal from the CBC radio show Bandwidth came on stage and gave away small prizes to the audience for answering trivia questions about this festival. When he first came on stage he told us how he had been in London for the last week and he was creating a show about the London music scene to be aired on the radio September ninth. Later he asked the audience – for a prize – if anyone knew when the show would be aired.

The only reason that I remembered the date he had mentioned was because I thought that this information should make it onto my blog. I didn’t realize at the time that this information would win a prize.

The shock on his face when I yelled out “September ninth!” was priceless. Not only could he hear me with absolute clarity but I think half of London could too. “Now that’s a set of pipes” Alan said and looking in the direction of my voice he asked if I was a singer. I gave a hoot and raised my fist into the air and yelled “Rock’nRoll!” I ran up to the front of the stage, got my hat and I turned and gave another loud hoot while I waved my hat in the air and returned to my seat. Joanne was laughing her head off and everyone seated around enjoyed the scene.

I know that I’ll be listening to Alan Neal’s Bandwidth on CBC radio this September 9th… for sure!

For more info on the Home County Folk Fest visit:

For more information on how to reduce landfill waste visit:

For more info about Alan Neal's CBC radio show Bandwidth visit:


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