The 37th annual Winnipeg Folk Festival begins today, and with decades of using the same old facilities, the festival is undertaking a major capital campaign for long-term improvements to the site’s development.
Just days after Manitoba Parks announced a series of informal public drop-in sessions on how to make Birds Hill Provincial Park better (July 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Viewpoint Picnic Area on North Drive), the Folk Fest will try to raise $6 million to do upgrades.
“It has been a formidable challenge to deliver the high quality experience that audiences, performers, vendors and volunteers have come to expect, year after year,” organizers said in a news release. “In spite of exponential growth, the wear-and-tear of time and weather on tents and equipment, and rising health, safety, accessibility and security demands, the festival has somehow kept up.”
Significant changes will occur in three phases over three years that will allow the festival to continue to grow, enhance accessibility, and welcome as many people as possible each year.
“We recognize the current site has reached its capacity, which is why we’ve put an attendance cap in place for this year,” said Tamara Kater, executive director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Some of the planned changes include a new festival village complete with food vendors, an outdoor craft market and a new music store. Wider pathways and new forest stages are also among the changes, including a revamped main stage.
To date, the festival has raised a third of the funding needed, and hopes the private and public sector kicks in the rest.
If you’re heading to the festival, pack the sunscreen, according to Shaw TV weather specialist Andrea Slobodian.