Folly Fest director steps down

FeelsGood Folly Fest, one of New Brunswick’s most beloved music and arts festivals, will soon have a new face at the forefront of its operation.

As the festival enters its twelfth year, co-founder Paul McAllister will step back from his role as festival director. Now, the FeelsGood collective, who oversees the festival, is in search of a new candidate to become co-director of the event before taking over fully in 2021.

“There’s a special place in a lot of peoples hearts [for Folly Fest],” said McAllister.

“It’s been a lot of fun, but it has turned into my entire life. [For] six months of the year, that’s my 100 per cent focus.”

Created 12 years ago, FeelsGood was the product of an art collective called The Big Three that McAllister was a part of with his friends Courtney Steeves, Jon Dennis and Mike Humble. Humble was McAllister’s co-director in running the festival for the first seven years before stepping back himself. The festival began in the second year of FeelsGood’s existence.

FeelsGood was originally formed in order to build a networking platform for artists. Folly Fest was then created a year later with the intention of recording it to make a compilation record of local artists including David Myles, Weak Size Fish and Gordon Gets Lost. The record would have been bundled with the FeelsGood Imperial Pilsner, a beer they created with Picaroons brewery to generate revenue for their brand to put on events.

(Submitted by J.W. Deveaux Photography)

“We never really set out to start a festival,” said McAllister.

A hurricane ruined the recording plans that year, but the idea for an annual festival stuck.

With the workload of the festival over the past two years becoming difficult for him to manage, McAllister decided the festival’s eleventh year would be his last time running the show. He said he wanted to put his focus back into the arts side of the FeelsGood brand, and plan projects like live painting events, art series and smaller music events in more areas in New Brunswick.

McAllister will also be focusing on developing his publishing company Monster House Publishing which he said was struggling to build momentum due to his extensive commitments to Folly Fest.

“The potential there is huge,” said McAllister.

However, as the most recent edition of the festival ran its course back in June, McAllister second-guessed the decision at times.

“The people that came had such a great time, I thought, ‘I can’t just leave this,’” said McAllister.

After the last festival, McAllister sat down with Penelope Stevens, who has worked with the FeelsGood collective for the past four years and came up with the idea of bringing on a new festival director to co-direct with him this upcoming year. The selected candidate would then become the sole director the year after.

McAllister acknowledged there are those who worry about the festival changing but added that changes happen and the last thing they want is for the festival to stagnate.

“It is certainly sad, but at the same time it is time for someone else to pick it up and put their soul into it,” said McAllister.

He added that Folly Fest has a strong identity.

“Folly is Folly,” he said.

“It’s positivity.”

McAllister said he will encourage his replacement to not worry when things seem to get tough.

“It’s all going to be right in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end,” said McAllister.

“It always comes together … we have magical people on our team, and after the chaos we always agree that it was a really good time.”

FeelsGood is accepting applications for McAllister’s replacement until Oct. 1.

Folly Fest will return for its twelfth edition in June 2020.

With files from Kait McKinley

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