CANSO: Organizers of the Stan Rogers Folk Festival have confirmed that ticket sales are going well as they announce the mainstage schedule and a Thursday night kick-off concert.

Capped at 1,500, Stanfest artistic director Troy Greencorn told The Reporter they have sold more than half of the weekend passes for the July 22 to 24 event in Canso, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

“Ticket sales are great. I would say that we’re probably a month ahead where we would be this time in a normal year, pre-pandemic, so that’s really encouraging. We’re supper happy and excited about that. I would say in the past month, we’ve done more sales than we’ve ever done in a month since we started,” he stated. “To me, it’s a signal that people are ready to come back to large events. It’s a signal; they’re supper excited about this year’s festival and about the anniversary. It’s a signal that they trust us to do a good job and keep everybody safe. It’s positive in every way. We’ve been getting ticketing reports and our jaws drop.”

Because many campers arrive on Thursday, and to give their army of volunteers a chance to “let loose and have some fun,” Greencorn said the Thursday night kick-off concert in the Canso and Area Arena with Matt Minglewood at 8 p.m. makes sense.

“Each night kind of tells a story, often,” Greencorn said. “We’ve always done it to support the rink as well. It’s kind of a toast to tradition and the good old days of rink dances. It would be back in ‘80s that Minglewood would be rolling through Canso to do arena dances. We had Minglewood in to do that event, probably five years ago, and it was legendary.”

As for the mainstage schedule, Stanfest released the artists and times last week. New this year, Stanfest said the mainstage will run all day, from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

On Friday, July 22 Catherine MacLellan will perform at 6 p.m., Lennie Gallant is up next at 6:50 p.m., Madison Violet takes the stage at 7:40 p.m., Beolach is up at 8:30 p.m., followed by Bruce Guthro at 9:30 p.m.

“Friday night, I’ve unofficially been calling it the home team. It’s a core group of artists who’ve been a big part of the story all the way through,” noted Greencorn. It’s Bruce, it’s Dave, it’s Lenny, artists who’ve performed at the festival more years than they haven’t. Every festival has that group of five, six, seven artists.”

The next day, Mary Gauthier starts things off at 6 p.m., Dave Gunning performs at 6:50 p.m., followed by Frander at 7:40 p.m., then Carolyn Dawn Johnson at 8:30 p.m., and finally J.P. Cormier at 9:30 p.m.

“Saturday night is more about showing the audience that we are an international festival. It’s East Coast artists, Canadian artists, European artists, U.S. artists,” said Greencorn.

On the final day of the festival, The Town Heroes are up at 6 p.m., then it’s the Men of the Deeps at 6:50 p.m., Twin Flames hit the stage at 7:45 p.m., George Canyon performs at 8:30 p.m., the Lee Boys are on at 9:25 p.m., and the festival finale is set for 10:30 p.m.

“Sunday is more of a laid back, sentimental finish to the weekend. Men of the Deep will almost certainly be the emotional pinnacle of the weekend,” Greencorn said. “There’s an interesting dynamic to an audience on Sunday at a festival; they’re tired, the revelry has had an impact, and some people have been there for four or five days.”

Also on Sunday, Greencorn said the gospel event in the morning brings together two families, the Lee Boys with the Smith family from North Preston. Then in the afternoon there’s the “Singing Stan” show with selected artists doing their renditions of Stan Rogers songs, he said, noting Sunday is a “pretty powerful day.”

“The finale is a real tradition with the festival,” noted Greencorn. “What happens is we get the entire cast of artists on the stage, and then a bunch of volunteers so there could be 100 people on the stage. There’s generally three songs that are done. The audience is on their feet for the entire thing singing along. It’s ‘Mary Ellen Carter,’ one of Stan’s biggest songs, ‘Amazing Grace,’ so it finishes on spiritual note, and then ‘Fiddler’s Green’ which is a nod to Canso’s fishing and seafaring history.”

Greencorn talked about the process for deciding who plays when.

“It’s an interesting process; one element is certainly the availability of the artist,” Greencorn explained. “A lot of our artists come and they’re there for the weekend but certainly there are some artists who are in and out. Like a Carolyn Dawn Johnson, for example, in on Saturday and then gone. Similarly George Canyon, in on Sunday, and then gone. A group like the Men of the Deeps, it’s 30 people, plus wives and guests, so that’s a day trip.”

For ticket and to book camp sites, those interested are asked to visit the web site: www.stanfest.com, they can email: info@stanfest.com, or phone 1-888-554-7826.