Lessons learned as Manitoba festivals return, face bumps along the way – Winnipeg | Globalnews.ca

With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, many Manitoba summer traditions have been able to continue or, in some cases, restart after two years of unforeseen hiatus.

Among those traditions: summer festivals.

With the Winnipeg Jazz Festival and Winnipeg Folk Festival now in the rearview mirror and big events like the Winnipeg Fringe Theater Festival on the horizon, festival season is in full swing, but the return to local stages has not been without some bumps in the road.

“I think one of the things we 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 up to the standard that we wanted them to be, but they didn’t impact people’s good time.

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“Sometimes things behind the scenes don’t go so well… but as long as there’s music on the stages and there are people in the audience seeing each other and having fun, that’s what matters in the end.”

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Winnipeg’s summer festivals return after a two-year hiatus

Skromeda said one of the unforeseen challenges for this year’s festival, which wrapped up Sunday at Birds Hill Park, was coordinating artist travel as airports around the world grapple with delays and cancellations.

“Changing flight times meant that some of the artists lost their slots that they were supposed to perform in, so we had to make some adjustments there,” he said.

“We had a few cancellations in total, between illnesses and people who couldn’t make it on time, but we have some great local talent who was able to fill in for him. So that was really good. And we learned that people will really want to support the festival and come do whatever it takes.”

Despite a few setbacks, one of which was the nationwide Rogers blackout, the festival, one of Manitoba’s top summer events, drew 74,000 people to the provincial park over four days of music.

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Click to play video: 'Winnipeg Folk Festival returns after two years of absence'

Winnipeg Folk Festival returns after two years of absence

Winnipeg Folk Festival returns after two years of absence

Along with large-scale events like Folk Fest, communities across the province play host to smaller and growing festivals throughout the summer.

One of them, the upcoming Bankside Music Festival in Letellier, Man., had a completely different problem on its hands when preparing for its July 22-23 event.

“I guess 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 are right next door. So this spring, the site and the camping area were completely under water for about three weeks.

“We’re set up for that kind of thing, but you never really know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you. And when the Red River rises, it leaves a big mess. You know, we have a lot to clean up.”

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Houle said the festival, which features hard rock, punk and metal bands, along with other genres, has been able to clean up the area and get it ready for an audience, but it took until the end of June for things to really dry out.

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 every year, unexpected challenges or not.

“It’s not a big corporation putting this out, it’s just a group of musicians, a group of friends who are basically doing this, you know?

“Practical, DIY, basically. So it has a lot of challenges. We’re just trying to do our best to make this the best experience for everyone who comes.”

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Click to Play Video: 'Winnipeg Summer Festivals Return After Two Year Hiatus'

Winnipeg’s summer festivals return after a two-year hiatus

Winnipeg Summer Festivals return after a two-year hiatus: June 30, 2022

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