Canada Day long weekend marks many celebrations across the country. In a small Nova Scotia fishing town, another kind of celebration happens. The Stan Rogers Folk Festival, known simply as Stanfest, honours the life and work of a cultural icon. While born in Ontario, Stan Rogers is most identified with music inspired by the Chedabucto Shore of Nova Scotia and its’ people. Rogers would later go on to compose other brilliants songs about other places and people of the country. Still, his legacy arguably remains anchored in and around the areas where his cultural roots were planted.
Stanfest is celebrated its’ 20th anniversary this weekend. It has become an internationally known gathering to hear many interpretations of Rogers’ music while offering a platform for artists to showcase their own original talents. Folk legend Arlo Guthrie took to the main stage on Saturday the 2nd. If I was able to go even just for one whole day, I would have stayed into the night long enough to hear a rousing rendition of his beloved classic “Alice’s Restaurant”.
Stanfest is providing longevity to the music of Stan Rogers. The number of younger people I’ve seen wearing Stanfest shirts may be obvious proof of this. Rogers’ music is wide-reaching with a clear global impact on the artistic community. It offers a passport into the lives of people and places that inspired Rogers. His music is a kind of informal social studies course that can really provoke thought. It can put you into the mindset of the common person that Stan often wrote about. It can make you reflect on Canada as a whole country. Its’ past, present and potential for the future.