Along with announcing the lineup for the 31st annual Calgary Folk Music Festival yesterday, festival co-ordinators outlined plans for expansion.

The event that runs from July 22 to 25 will be opening the gates earlier on the inaugural day, providing eager fans with even more music.

“We typically start the main stage at 5:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon,” said the festivals artistic director of 17 years Kerry Clarke.

“This year we’re starting it at 3 p.m., we’re starting with three stages so that’s nine extra hours of programming.”

This year’s event will include a total of 68 artists, 13 of which are Albertan, including singer-songwriter Samantha Savage-Smith.

For Calgary-born Savage-Smith, 22, playing at this year’s folk fest for the first time is a dream come true.

“I was extremely excited, I dreamt about it,” she said. “I always wanted one of those backstage passes.”

Savage-Smith said that folk fest has a unique quality that draws loyal patrons every year.

“It’s really cool, I think it’s really unique to this city and it’s something really special.”

The organization is in the process of building a new hall in Inglewood that will be a permanent office space, and house a 250-seat performance hall. Organizers are hoping the hall will be finished sometime next year, and that it can be used year-round as a performance space.

But even with the new space, the four-day festival will continue to be held in Prince’s Island Park as it has been for the last three decades.

“Prince’s Island is perfect. I think it’s better to sell out or be closer to capacity in a smaller venue than to not be sold out at a larger venue so we are absolutely not looking to ever move,” explained Clarke.

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