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Buses at Mariposa
Story and Photos by Tyler Herron

Buses at Mariposa July 8-10, 2022 Mariposa Folk Festival, founded in 1961 by Ruth Jones of Orillia, Ontario, Canada. She rallied contacts in Toronto and people in the community in order to have about 5,000 attendees at the first festival. Entertainment that first year was provided by popular acts of the time, such as Ian and Sylvia.

Although a rough start in 1961, through the years the festival grew. By 1968 it moved to Toronto Island. Hosting such artists as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot. Who, as a local to Orillia, would become a staple at the festival over the years. After a 12 year stint on Toronto Island, the festival became nomadic for a time. The Mariposa Folk Festival would return home to Orillia for the year 2000.

However, it wasn't until 2013 that the festival began to have camping available and one of the best non-musical events of the festival was born, Buses at Mariposa! The idea of a VW specific campout at Mariposa was hatched by a lovely couple, Doug and Linda Alcock, also VW owners. Put in the "back 40" that first year, with a security guard assigned to the area. Of course the Bus owners were model citizens. Soon after getting a site upgrade.

Now, I'm positive that there have been numerous VW Buses and other air cooled VW's attend the festival over the past six decades, but this gathering is something else. Fast forward to 2022 and the festival has been on hiatus for two years, due to the pandemic. The festival doesn't officially start until Friday evening. The VW Buses? We were lined up at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, in order to secure the best of the best camping spots.

When I say best camping spot, what has affectionately become known as Westfalia Way is provided the only waterfront camping space available at the festival. 2022 was also the first year that Westfalia Way was officially listed on the Mariposa program map. Much to the delight of festival comers and goers along the path to the concert gate, who stop to admire and have a picture taken with their dream Bus. Or perhaps ask a willing Bus owner about Westy ownership. Along with many smiles, stories and reminiscing of Westfalias and VW's of their past.

After festival hours the music doesn't stop on Westfalia Way, though. Some of the hired artists also have Westfalias and spend the late night hours making fabulous musical memories, along with other talented players who bring their instruments with them for the weekend. The big, popular artists are fantastic, but in my opinion some of the best music is made in the hours after midnight, surrounded by Volkswagens and genuinely excellent people.

Although not all of the VW's were air cooled, a large percentage were. Everything from Split Windows to Eurovans are welcome on Westfalia Way. We are one big happy VW Family, after all. And after such a long time without seeing many of the attendees, it was just a great weekend to unwind with like minded, VW and music loving friends. Buses at Mariposa is already on my list of events to attend in 2023. I hope to see you there!

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