Sacred FolkFest Traditions: Tarp Running

The Edmonton FolkFest is about more than just the music, it’s about the whole experience. For me a main part of the experience is the colour lottery, a time when hundreds of people gather in a small, cramped corral. Each person is given a lottery ticket with a performer’s name on it and a number. If your performer is called first, you get to be in the first group to run your tarp. If your performer is the second called, you are in the second group etc. The number on the ticket indicates what number you are in your group. 

On Saturday and Sunday the colour lottery starts at 7 in the morning, which means that you have to wake up at 6 after staying out until 12:30 am at Gallagher Park. For many people, this probably sounds crazy... and you know what? They’re probably right, it is pretty crazy, but it’s worth it! It’s worth it if after spending half an hour in close quarters with other caffeine fuelled folk festers your performer is called first. 

For my family and friends, the colour lottery has become a tradition. After the lottery on Saturday and Sunday morning we go for breakfast at the nearby Humpty’s. The coffee there is pretty bad, but you’ve got to stick to tradition! After breakfast all of us (usually ranging between 6 and 12 people) return to the hill to watch the tarp run. It may not sound like much, but the tarp run is way more exciting than the Stanley Cup playoffs or the FIFA World Cup!

If we get first colour then our tarp runner gets to be bagpiped down the hill to place our tarp. This moment may be the most exciting part of the FolkFest. Our whole group stands at the top of the hill craning our necks to try and see where our tarp runner placed the tarp, the anticipation is sometimes too much! Our group takes tarp running so seriously that we call our runner “Tarparanjuat: The Tarp Runner”, based off of the movie “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner”. She even has a t-shirt with the name printed on it! 

This year I’ve noticed that many things have changed surrounding the tarp run. The security especially seems way tighter; they wouldn’t even let us cheer on Tarparanjuat! Our group of regular FolkFest-goers fear that this will now affect the performance of our tarp runner because she won’t be able hear us cheering for her. It won’t matter today though because we got first colour at the lottery! 

See you on the hill!

more in Music Preview     |     posted Aug 6th, 2010 at 3:43pm     

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