“If I were to build a stage, would you throw a party?” And so, the journey to create FrogFest Festival really began. A few months later the founding team of organizers went back to visit Randy – landowner and master builder – to discover that he did indeed build a stage. An epic stage. Emanating a magnificent energy, it towered over a wide clearing in a gorgeous forest. Creating trails and clearing out camping areas, erecting outhouses and gathering wood for a weekend-long fire, the wheels were set in motion for a unique concert to happen. Featuring a cross-section of Calgary’s music scene, a very grass-roots first FrogFest Festival took place in 2010 manifesting a community that would annually come together to share in the magic of music, art, friendship, and nature.
2011 brought us Tree Frog Fest. Organizers and audience members came together to further conjure the potential of the land, and found themselves digging trenches to redirect flash floods as rain poured down throughout the weekend. By 2012 (Leap Frog Fest), art installations started to pop up in the forest for the first time. Performers now also began appearing on the new side stage, while a growing audience danced around the fire to some of Western Canada’s favourite independent music makers. In 2013, a lot more rain came. Though conditions could have dampened spirits, dancing and laughter echoed along the trails. Endurance was rewarded as the sky finally cleared at the end of the final night. An opportunity to re-invoke the fireside jams was hopped upon, and singing and instruments serenaded through the trees into the sunrise. Without a doubt this land was welcoming us and our ambitious but humble vision, metamorphosing FrogFest into a valuable community building supporter of the arts.
The festival continued to grow, and so did the stage. In 2014, Randy and the team added wings to the main stage, and literally raised the roof! To support this momentum, in 2015 the festival founders decided to register the Frogfest Music & Arts Society as an incorporated not-for-profit organization. For 2016, the audience was treated to the first of many “secret sets”! (a tradition that gave dozens of performers an opportunity to pay epic homages to Prince, Pink Floyd, Ween, and Gorillaz) In 2017, the attendance began to show significant growth, and the number of performers kept growing. By 2018, the grandiose and elaborate art installations on both stages and in the forest were taking on a life of their own, always celebrating a new theme every year!
Finally, in 2019, it was time to celebrate a monumental 10 year anniversary as the camping festival we’ve come to love. A legendary weekend to say the least, every artist and musician involved participated in an unforgettable experience, not knowing this would be the last FrogFest as we know it. Programming for the 2020 fest was almost complete when the global pandemic halted our lives for longer than we could have ever imagined. Finally when the time came to return, in the spring of 2022, the team was forced to face the heartbreaking fact that the Lilypad, FrogFest’s home for over a decade, would not longer be available for our magical gatherings…
So what does the future hold for FrogFest and all you tadpoles? Planning has begun to host an event on a new piece of land nicknamed “Flint Rock”. Though we must delay until August for ’22, the festival will return to Canada Day long weekend in the summer of 2023. It is sure to be an exciting experiment for all that will share in the magic with us! Here’s to new beginning, new land, new music, and most importantly, new friends!
With the help of countless volunteers and artists, as well as wonderful support from the community FrogFest will continue to produce an awe-inspiring festival of music and art; each year setting a higher standard for what an inclusive community festival can be. Performers of every genre of folk, rock, and experimental music will find a home in the forest, in addition to the eager ears of a captivated and admiring audience. 150+ bands from across Canada, and as far as China have already shared their talents. The connections within the community are reinforced and made stronger each year uniting us all in a vision of altruism, sustainability, honesty, and respect.
PS. Did you know! The founding members of FrogFest first began using the name all the way back in 2005, when organizing community hall concert events for four dear franco-albertan friends with birthdays in February! It’s only five years later that the tradition moved to the rural forested lands of Alberta for a camping adventure filled with music!