Regina Folk Fest kicked off on Friday after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
The 51st edition of the festival kicked off Friday in Victoria Park, with its new theme, “Redreamings.” Amber Goodwyn, artistic director of the cultural festival, said the theme is meant to represent the changes that happened during the pandemic.
“We’re taking this year to really dream and re-imagine how we can make this festival exciting and accessible,” said Goodwyn.
Goodwyn said lots of late nights of planning have led up to the festival. She said making sure the festival included free options alongside the paid stage was important, so the whole community can join in on the fun.
“We’re one of the few western folk festivals that provide free programming,” she said. “We’ve got concerts going on all weekend that people can just pull up a chair, or sit on the grass, to watch.”
The festival will have 36 entertainers performing throughout the weekend. There will also be 20 food vendors around Victoria Park.
Some of the other events happening around the grounds are pop up dance performances, musical workshops, and art exhibitions by the Dunlop Art Gallery and Mackenzie Art Gallery.
“It’s really a huge party, and a great way for the community to come together in the name of music and culture,” said Goodwyn.
Josh Haugerud, executive director of Regina Folk Fest, said he cannot wait to open up the gates to the public.
“I’m so excited. I’ve been here all week working 14- and 16-hour days trying to pull this together, working with an amazing team,” said Haugerud.
“There’s just so much hope and happiness when this community comes together for this event, and it’s going to be exceptional.”
Haugerud said accessibility for the event is one of the biggest goals. The event will host a pilot auditory project called The Hearing Loop.
“What it is, is a copper wire that we’ve buried in the ground for folks that have hearing aids can tie into, to be able to pull sound right off the soundboard and adjust the volume to a comfortable level for themselves,” said Haugerud.
According to Haugerud, the festival will also have receivers available for people with ADHD, autism and others who have difficulties with loud noises. Headsets will be available for people to put on and adjust the level of the music.
“It’s going to give them an experience that is a lot more comfortable and more welcoming for them,” said Haugerud. “We really hope to expand the accessibility initiatives that we’re doing into the future.”
Haugerud said the festival organizers are expecting approximately 35,000 guests throughout the weekend.
Over 700 volunteers have worked to set up the show, and Goodwyn said seeing the whole event come together has been rewarding.
“So much has been on pause for the last few years,” Goodwyn said. “I’m just really excited just to see it all happen.”
The Regina Folk Fest runs until Sunday, Aug. 9.