By Nathan Taylor
As far as the audience was concerned, Sarah Harmer rounded out a hat trick last night during her third visit to the Mariposa Folk Festival.
The Burlington-born singer-songwriter headlined what organizers said was a record-breaking festival.
“It was a great ending to a wonderful festival,” said Catherine Brennan, president of the Mariposa Folk Foundation. “(We had a) great response from our artists about the vendors, the audience and our volunteers.”
Performers familiar with the festival often liken a return to the stage to a sort of homecoming. That feeling resonated with Harmer.
“It definitely has a well-worn feeling, in a good way. It is really comfortable,” she told The Packet & Times after taking a swim in Lake Couchiching before her set.
Having been “on the low ebb of touring and music making” recently, last night’s performance was a welcome opportunity for her and her band to play some crowd favourites and a few new songs from an album Harmer hopes to release in the spring.
She opened her set with “Pendulums” from her 2004 CD “All of Our Names.” The rest of her set list included tunes from her latest release, “I’m a Mountain,” and 2000’s “You Were Here,” including the folksy “Uniform Grey.”
The Juno award winner has family in Orillia, but they’re not her only connection to the Sunshine City.
“I want to shout this one out to the Lake Simcoe Protection Act,” she said before playing “Dandelions in Bullet Holes.”
Harmer attended the Ontario legislature for the first time recently to support the act.
“I was just interested, and I was in Toronto,” she explained. “The details are going to be the most important.
“Philosophically, people are saying, ‘We’re going to protect the lake,’ but how are we going to do it? That’s the important part.”
Before Harmer went on stage, Corb Lund performed and gave Saturday’s headliner, Taj Mahal, a run for his money in terms of dancers in the audience.
“The spirit world shone down upon us this weekend,” Brennan said.
“It’s just a weekend full of special moments.”
Organizers won’t get much of a break before preparation begins for next year’s festival, as well as the 50th in 2010.
“We all do this because we really believe in what we’re doing,” Brennan said, thanking the hundreds of volunteers, sponsors and attendees who make the event possible.
The festival was also a forum to remember volunteers who have recently died, including Lynne Hurry, a former president who lost her fight against cancer in May.
For video footage from the festival and more photos, please visit www.orilliapacket.com