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Mitch Podolak, Founder of Winnipeg Folk Festival, Passes
Mitch Podolak. Credit: Rodney Smith.

Mitch Podolak, Founder of Winnipeg Folk Festival, Passes

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CANADA (CelebrityAccess) – Mitch Podolak, a prolific figure in Canadian music, has died.

Podolak was a force in Manitoba’s music community. After co-founding the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1974, he had a hand in the creation of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and also helped to establish the West End Cultural Centre and the Home Routes House Concert Series among numerous other musical projects. Additionally, Podolak hosted ‘Simply Folk’ on CBC for years, and toured the world as a banjo player.

An outpouring of tributes to Podolak on social media began Sunday evening shortly after his son Leonard Podolak posted the news of his father’s passing to his Facebook page saying: “It is with extreme sadness that I announce that my father Mitch Podolak, has passed away. He was my hero, and he uplifted anyone who had an idea, good or bad, if they were passionate about it. Creating festivals was his way of starting the Revolution. And what a revolution it has been.”

The Winnipeg Folk Festival honored Podolak and offered condolences to his loved ones in a post to its own Facebook page that read: “More than one of our founders, he was a father, a friend, a leader, a mentor, a true visionary. We owe so much of who we are to him. Mitch, your love for and dedication to folk music and to our community will always be a part of us.”

Podolak was made a member of the Order of Manitoba in 2015 and received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Brandon University the same year. He was also honored with a lifetime achievement award, the Unsung Hero Award, from the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2013.

In 2017, supporters donated $35,300 in four days to a GoFundMe drive to raise money to help Podolak renovate his home following major surgery on his spine that required him to use a walker.

A celebration of life is being planned for the near future.

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