Toke on the Rocks: Legal cannabis ‘helped Folk succeed’

Audience members at the 2019 Folk on the Rocks beer garden stage
Audience members at the 2019 Folk on the Rocks beer garden stage. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Folk on the Rocks’ 39th edition concluded with Wintersleep and the Yellowknives Dene Drummers on Sunday evening – as some organizers suggested last year’s cannabis legalization produced “the most successful Folk in years.”

One of the festival’s longest-serving crew members put the success, bluntly, down to the legalization of the drug in October 2018.

“That’s definitely one of the reasons this went so well,” said the organizer, who did not wish to be identified.

“People smoked before, but this year they smoked a lot more.



“I can’t remember it being this good for a long time.”

That view was not officially expressed by the festival itself, but 2019’s Folk did include a designated “weed-friendly” space in the beer garden for ticket-holders wanting to smoke.

Signage throughout the festival site warned attendees not to drink high.

Despite – or perhaps because of – a major internet outage across Yellowknife on Saturday, the festival was being declared an all-round success by organizers and fans alike on Sunday night.



Wintersleep, a huge weekend hit, rounded off their headlining set with an encore featuring 2007 track Weighty Ghost – followed by a mass dance to the Yellowknives Dene Drummers featuring hundreds of festival-goers.

Earlier, Yellowknife’s own Leela Gilday returned to Folk on the Rocks with a triumphant and powerful set on the main stage, while Snotty Nose Rez Kids delivered a unique, raucous, and at times anthemic appearance in front of a wildly infatuated crowd.

At the Cabin Stage, 11-year-old DJ Kilo November provided the weekend’s highlight with a set of astonishing energy and accomplishment, drawing the stage’s biggest audience in years.

Yellowknifers PIT! produced a polished, punchy, and unnervingly catchy appearance – featuring “guitar limbo” in front of the Cabin Stage, as audience members ducked under the guitars of Taylor Saracuse and Brian Weadick.

A day later, Wares’ Cassia Hardy leapt off the same stage with a roundhouse kick to deliver the climax of the band’s Cabin Stage finale.

Earlier on Sunday, Fiver – returning to Folk on the Rocks having been forced to withdraw last year through serious illness – finally had the chance to perform tracks from her album Audible Songs from Rockwood, which transforms into song the case files of patients at a 19th-century asylum in Ontario.

Cabin Radio, which broadcast 30 hours of live music across the three days of this year’s festival, will air repeats of its Saturday and Sunday broadcasts on July 20 and 21.

From 12pm this coming Saturday and Sunday, you can hear the whole festival again – exactly as it was first broadcast – in case you missed Saturday’s shows through the city’s internet outage, or simply want to relive great moments.

Beginning on Monday, July 15, Cabin Radio will air a different performance from Folk on the Rocks 2019, in full as recorded live, each Monday at 9pm – repeated Sundays at 10pm.

First up on July 15 will be Alex Cuba’s main stage set.