The grass at Edmonton’s Gallagher Park remains in rough shape after last month’s Edmonton Folk Music Festival combined with the summer’s wet weather to create less-than-ideal ground conditions.

Despite the folk festival spending about $30,000 on measures to minimize wear and tear this year, the area maintained significant damage, with the grass at the bottom of the hill, where the festival’s main stage sits, mangled the most.

“It was one of the wettest years that we’ve ever had,” said folk fest producer Terry Wickham.

“There’s also a long-term problem with how the hill is drained at the bottom, and we’ve been saying to the city, ‘Look, we keep on replacing sod here, and it’s costing us every few years.’ We want to get this drainage problem solved.”

Other heavily trafficked areas, including grass east of the Cloverdale Community Hall where food and arts vendors are situated during the festival, also suffered damage.

The festival is responsible for all remediation costs, which it covers each year.

Wickham says that the goal after every festival is that by the time snow melts in spring, park users won’t be able to tell that a massive folk festival was ever held there. Continued rainy weather means that remediation work has taken longer than usual to begin, though.

“Our intention is to leave the park as we found it,” Wickham said. “That can take some time. It has been longer than I would have liked at this point, and part of that is that more rain came after the festival, as we came off the site, and part of it is we have to wait for the city to agree to everything and we have to agree, since we foot the bill.”

Music fans rush to set up their tarps during the second day of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival in Gallagher Park, Friday Aug. 9.

David Bloom /


City officials weren’t able to provide details on a timeline for when remediation work at Gallagher Park will wrap up but said that they expected increased weather-related turf damage this year.

The city is currently developing a master plan for the redevelopment of Gallagher Park. Wickham hopes the plan can take into account drainage issues as well as install paved pathways to help people with mobility challenges navigate the festival.

“We can bring in sand to mitigate the muck so that people can walk around it, but you can’t push a wheelchair through that,” he said.

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