Generous Randomness

It’s fitting that my last post was about music and how things go full circle. This entry is a variation on that theme. And it gets its title from the Mariposa theme ‘practice random acts of greenness’ which is a big deal for the festival.

Origins of the Signs

Greg Potts has been making Westfalia Way street signs and stickers for a number of years now. Only for a few events; Mariposa Folk is one of that select few as was Shelter Valley Folk Festival. They have become quite a tradition since the idea first came about. The signs and stickers are much like the Shelter Valley green signs in the Vance tale in that they are sought after and treasured by most who are lucky enough to get one.

Folk Festival – Oh So Close

Generally there are between 6 to 10 full sized street signs and about 50 of the stickers for any given event. They are never made to be sold, only to celebrate the event and share the memories down the road with the distinctive VW twist. By now I expect there are some spread around the world on musicians guitar cases, fans coffee mugs and who knows where else. Each one has a story tied to it. So this is a story of a few stickers from the 2018 edition of Mariposa Folk Festival.

Random Acts

After the bulk have gone to the organizer so everyone in the VW family who’s there will get one, part of my tradition is to scoop up some of the “extra” stickers. And then I see how things play out.

Westy Way @ Mariposa

And the winners are:

This year I ended up handing out stickers to these folks:

  • Murray, he’s an honourary member from Shelter Valley days
  • A random fan who came in a westy but wasn’t able to camp
  • Irish Mythen who was a surprise guest (gifted by my son Steff)
  • Kevin Breit & Cécile Doo-Kingué after a stellar performance at the Pub Stage
  • The bass player for Birds of Bellwoods (I was very tuned into all the various bass lines all weekend, Kintaro was one of several outstanding performers I got to hear)
  • A fellow camper who saved my spot for the most amazing set of the weekend and then made room for Andrea too!
  • Danny Michel (who was a little surprised by me when I approached to give him one… sorry Danny!). The set Danny, AJ Croce plus Bill & Joel Plaskett did that became the Steve Poltz memorial tribute was oh so amazing!
  • And finally Mark Reeves who was delighted to receive the sticker and came by Westy Way a couple of times (more on that later!)

If you’ve read this far and are scratching your head about “Westy” and “Westfalia” then I’ll pause and explain. If you already know move on down to the next paragraph! Westfalia-Werks is the German company that did camper conversions for VW (and other companies) from the time the first VW buses were made until a few years back when they declared bankruptcy. The designs evolved over the years and they reached their VW peak with the Vanagon era. More info here for the geeks out there. They have become iconic of an era. Plus they’re a lot of fun.

A Few Highlights

Chatting with festival-goers during the event is certainly fun. Since we’re right by the camping entrance and the lake there is a lot of foot traffic. And a lot of questions. People have lots of interest and questions and most Westy owners are happy to chat about their bus and the general scene. Here’s a shot of Westfalia Way, Mariposa style. The photo starts with my bus and you can just (almost?) see the entrance to the festival in the “distance”.  There are more buses back the other way and around the corner back that way too. I didn’t hear a count but expect it’s likely around 35. [edit: Doug and Linda — who make this lovely event happen — tell me their count was 42 buses!]

The other side of the path you see is Lake Couchiching with a nice sandy beach to wade/swim in. Yes, life is tough on Westfalia Way.

Looking down Westfalia Way

Now as to why the people listed above got a sticker… that’s some mix of chemistry and timing. Here are two examples.

Danny Michel

Danny Michel has performed at Shelter Valley (where I first saw him), at Mariposa a time or two, and lots of other festivals I haven’t attended. You might have heard him on the Vinyl Cafe too, he and Stuart built up a close relationship over the years. I love his music, go to his website to have a listen if you don’t know it. Then there’s the bus connection (well… van. And more). A while back he came across and bought the Space Van which spawned a YouTube series and lots of other themes. When he got that he became an honourary member, now it’s official. Plus of course his close connection with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who has been in command of the most amazing “bus” ever launched to date (the International Space Station). And I was able to give him the sticker while he was actually on Westfalia Way (my question of “do you know where you are right now?” may have been a little confusing 😉 ).

One of the many reasons Danny figures into the life of my bus is that Andrea bought his Matadora CD for the first drive after the restoration by Volker was done!

Here’s Danny’s Space Van parked by the Green Room at Mariposa.

Danny’s Space Van

Mark Reeves

Then there’s Mark Reeves. I had never encountered him or his music before. I have no idea why, that’s just the way it is. And I only got to hear him sharing a couple of side stages (the Tributes to Our Heros was particularly good). I liked the vibe, his style, and obvious talent and I found him some time later and gave him the last of the stickers I had to give away. I’d seen him walk through Westy Way so I figured he’d know what it was all about. And he sure did! He was delighted, we chatted about the concept a bit and he asked if there might be a music being played there later. Full circle that leads back to Greg who makes the signs, his bus is home base for jam sessions. Well almost full circle in this case. We ended up going to the other “non-campfire” music circle. Mark did come by though! And while I didn’t get to play with him I did find a CD sitting on a chair by my camper. The gift of a sticker set off its own domino effect I guess. I heard from other Westy campers that they too had found his CD by their bus. What a wonderful and thoughtful act. Thank you!

As I headed out from the festival (after having done a little more volunteer time) I smiled and laughed when track three came on. Someone had mentioned something a song Mark did but I only got hints of what it was about. V-Dub is indeed about VWs and that link will tell the rest.

“Some may have a sink, Some may have a stove, …”

Mark meets Westy Way


Well there you have it… the festival is done, the music was amazing, yes Gordon Lightfoot was there, and by now it’s all been returned to it’s usual state. It won’t be forgotten though, those stickers are out there now.

One Reply to “Generous Randomness”

  1. Linda Alcock says: Reply

    Nice stories. There were 42 buses by our count.

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