The North Country Fair is a music festival put on near Slave Lake in northern Alberta. Music ranging from folksy to indie to kid’s classics to extra-loud makes sure everyone finds something they like. Held at the Summer Solstice every year, this fair has been running with a Pagan vibe since 1980. Everyone is welcome and it is frequented by Edmontonians since it’s only 3 hours away. Also, family friendly camping is available.
Cleo said, “Want to go the North Country Fair June 21st?”
I said, “Yah! What’s that?” and we both grabbed a friend and packed all four of us (plus my Holga) into my little Hyundai hatchback with all our gear and food (thank you Tetris). I’d never been to this fair and honestly never yet been to a big music festival and it turns out that’s the reason she wanted to go too. Both of us were music festival virgins about to get loved in our ear-holes. Excited, we hit the road and cruised northwest to Slave Lake and a weekend of good times.
You have to love camping to go to this fair. Some people even set up camp three or four days prior. Thankfully, there are no plug-ins, only a couple taps and everyone shuns people who bring generators. Perfect for us who just want to sleep outside and cook over an open flame. Big ass tent set up, time for beers and food! Can’t beat that smokey flavor.
Of course, music happened. Three stages were going almost non-stop until the very wee hours of the morning and many local and more well known bands were playing. We didn’t bother with getting a schedule and just wandered from stage to stage to see what we would end up with. At one point I stopped and listened to the distant sounds of something very familiar. My inner child was stirring. Acoustic guitar strumming the opening chords to Cat Came Back by Fred Fuckin’ Penner! I bolted at full sprint to the stage, laughing like a little kid. I even got a picture with him (kinda).
Other music happened too, but no other band mattered to me as much as Fred Penner. Also, I was pretty tipsy so was in less of a music mode and more of a meet-random-people mode. Whatever mode you’re in, however, it’s all there.
I’m not going to lie, even though there was great music playing we spent most of our time floating on the river and meeting people on the river bank. There is always something happening whether it’s music played by a few randoms, juggling, rock stacking or swinging on the rope swing (not pictured, sorry, but it was extremely fun). The river bends in a big loop that nearly surround the campground so it’s possible to start floating on one side, float for quite a while around the whole bend and when you get out, still be within a short walk of where you started.
The fun never stopped as we continued exploring all day and most of the night. We hit up the market and checked out the goods for sale, grabbed food at some of the concession booths and played with the toys. People had balls to juggle, hoops to hoola, slack lines to balance on and poi to poi around with. Did I mention the park?
I had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people. The North Country Fair is already on my To-Do list for next year and I can’t wait. I only hope we have nights as beautiful as we did this last trip with the full moon overhead. If you see me there, say hi and join me for a beer!
Also, here’s the North Country Fair website so check it out when they update it for next year’s festival! I also used some info from the site.