After a two year hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Winnipeg’s summer festivals are making a full-scale comeback.
The Dauphin CountryFest is the first of many to make its return, kicking off on Friday.
CountryFest president Ann Ransom said it feels great to host Canadian artists who couldn’t play live during COVID-19 restrictions.
“When we looked at our lineup, we’re like ‘let’s pay it forward here,’” she said. “Let’s make sure that we’re getting those Canadian artists out there, that we’re giving them a chance to reach their market.”
Ransom said a positive aspect from the past few years was thinking of ways to enhance the CountryFest experience.
“It’s nice to bring in some customer-oriented changes this year, (including) having (Square payments) available so people can bring their their credit cards or their debit cards or their ApplePay or however they pay usually,” she said.
“Our food vendors are able to accept that type of payment, just making it that much easier for folks than having to carry cash around or having that with them.”
The Fringe Festival’s executive producer Chuck McEwen told 680 CJOB there were a few logistical challenges during the planning process this year.
“The biggest challenge is just getting everybody back because a lot of people have left the industry or a lot of your suppliers might not be in business anymore or they’re on reduced workloads,” he said. “So some of our equipment isn’t available anymore.”
According to McEwen things like lighting equipment and porta potties were trickier to find this year amid high demand for available stock.
Despite extra hours and costs getting Fringe back up and running, McEwen said it’s worth the effort to put on its 112 shows.
“We’re hearing a lot of positive comments from our volunteers, the patrons and performers about just how much they’ve missed connecting with each other in-person at an event they really enjoy.
“And so I think that’s the biggest impact for me, is that there’s this great demand for not just the Fringe, but all of our amazing festivals here and in Manitoba and Winnipeg.”
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