It is hard to believe an event entitled the Friendship Festival could get any more mellow after 24 years, but that seems to be what happened this year. The really good news is that the quality of performances from the wide assortment of musical acts seemed improved too.
The defining characteristic of the three day event in Fort Smith was that most of the music was local, or at least had strong local connections. The out-of-towners who did appear, mostly northern regulars from many festivals past, all lauded the event and the community for the positive atmosphere, warm hospitality and good old fashioned fun.
The South Slave Friendship Festival has a standing invitation for all Northern musicians, but makes a point to stay away from bringing in big name bands from the south as headliners. That philosophy was strangely corrupted this year with the arrival of a big name singer song writer and and former Juno award nominee from Fort McMurray who has produced three acclaimed albums. That celebrity turned out to be none other than Ted Wesley, arguably the best known Northern musician ever. It didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect for all three warm, fuzzy days.