In the 1870s, Cloverdale boasted just two farms and a population you could probably fit into a minivan.
Though it now has some 370 homes, it’s focus on residential, not commercial development, has kept it one of coziest, quietest neighbourhoods in Edmonton despite being only a hop over the Low Level Bridge from downtown.
That is, quiet save for one August weekend, when the Edmonton Folk Music Festival takes over Gallagher Park.
It’s hard to find a relationship between a community and a concert promoter that’s more symbiotic than the one forged between these residents and this event. “The Folk Fest has energized the community and created a lot of goodwill from the community,” says Dino Bottos, a 14-year community resident who also chairs the liaison committee with the Folk Fest.
“A little more than 88 per cent of our residents tell us they are in favour of the Folk Fest being here,” he says. “They put on a world-class event, and they invite us to attend for free. Over two decades, we have made as many moves as possible to make sure the festival is as safe as possible and that the concerns of the residents are being met.”
About 700 free passes for the Folk Fest go to community residents every year and, according to Bottos, the majority of them are more than willing to bear the four-day congestion of their public spaces.
And when a new splash pad was built in the community, fixtures were made in the shapes of musical instruments to show how proud it is to host the festival.
Cloverdale itself is shaped like a natural amphitheatre, which gives it a strong sense of community. “Being in the valley, with the river to the south and the ridge to the north, our community is geographically defined,” says Bottos. “It creates a high level of community engagement.”
Really, it’s like a village within the city. If it wasn’t for the Folk Fest and Muttart Conservatory drawing thousands of visitors, Cloverdale would be a secret stash of neat homes and condos facing the leafy banks of the North Saskatchewan. Instead the glass pyramids make it easy to spot from across the river, with eyes envying the people who live around there.
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