Lessons learned on the return of Manitoba festivals, with bumps in the road – Winnipeg

With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, many of Manitoba’s summer traditions have been able to continue — or, in some cases, resume after a two-year unforeseen hiatus.

Among these traditions: summer festivals.

With the Jazz Winnipeg Festival and Winnipeg Folk Festival now in the rearview mirror and big events like the Winnipeg Fringe Theater Festival on the horizon, the festival season is in full swing, but the return to local stages hasn’t been without a few bumps along the way.

“I think one of the things we’ve learned this year is to let go of some of the little things,” Folk Festival executive director Lynne Skromeda told Global News.

“There were certain things that weren’t quite to the level that we wanted, but it didn’t affect people’s good time.

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“Sometimes things don’t go quite so smoothly behind the scenes… but as long as there’s music on the stages and people in the audience seeing each other and having a good time, that’s what counts in the end.”

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Winnipeg’s summer festivals are making a comeback after a two-year hiatus

Skromeda said one of the unforeseen challenges for this year’s festival, which ended Sunday at Birds Hill Park, was coordinating artists’ tours while airports around the world grapple with delays and cancellations.

“The change in flight schedules meant that some of the artists missed their time slots to perform, so we had to make some adjustments there,” she said.

“We’ve had a few cancellations overall between illness and people not being able to get here in time – but we have a lot of great local talent to fill in for that. That was really good. And we learned that people really support the festival and want to come and do what is needed.”

Despite some hiccups, one of which was Rogers’ statewide absence, the festival — one of Manitoba’s premier summertime events — drew 74,000 people to the provincial park over the four days of music.

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Winnipeg Folk Festival returns after a two-year absence

Winnipeg Folk Festival returns after a two-year absence

In addition to large-scale events like the Folk Fest, communities across the province host smaller, growing festivals throughout the summer.

One of these, the upcoming Bankside Music Festival in Letellier, Man., had a very different problem preparing for its July 22-23 event.

“I think the big challenge this year was the Red River,” Bankside’s Richard Houle told Global News.

“We are the Bankside Music Festival – we are on the banks of the Red River. We’re right next door. This spring, the venue and the campsite were completely under water for around three weeks.

“We’re prepared for something like this, but you never really know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you. And when the Red River comes up, it leaves a bloody mess in its wake. You know, we have a lot to clean up.”

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Houle said the festival – which highlights hard rock, punk and metal bands as well as other genres – was able to clean up the area and prepare it for an audience, but it took until the end of June for things to really dry .

The five-year-old Bankside Festival is also dealing with a very different level of resources than a big event like Folk Fest, but Houle said it’s been a learning experience each year, unexpected challenges or not.

“It’s not a big company that’s putting this on – it’s just a bunch of musicians, a group of friends, basically doing it, you know?

“Hands-on, DIY, basically. So it has many challenges. We’re just trying to do our best to make this the best experience for everyone who comes.”

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Winnipeg’s summer festivals are making a comeback after a two-year hiatus

Winnipeg’s summer festivals are making a comeback after a two-year hiatus – June 30, 2022

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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