Another Winnipeg festival falls silent as Folklorama cancels 2020 events

By | April 24, 2020

The long list of festivals and events cancelled due to COVID-19 now includes Winnipeg’s beloved Folklorama.

This would have been the annual multicultural festival’s 51st consecutive year.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation … due to measures implemented in the battle against COVID,” a statement from the Folklorama board and operations team stated on Friday.

“After much consultation with our government officials, board of directors, volunteers, and members, we know this is the right decision for all concerned,” the statement said.

“Folklorama is a not-for-profit organization and as such this decision was not made lightly, nor without full knowledge of its greater impact on all.”

The festival is a significant source of revenue generation for more than 40 ethno-cultural communities across the city, the statement said.

Performers entertain at the India Pavilion. (Dr. Tse Li Luk)

Folklorama began in 1970 as a one-time, week-long event to help celebrate Manitoba’s centennial and showcase the various cultures in the province. It was so well received that it turned into the annual event it is today, growing from 21 pavilions to 45 and expanding to two weeks.

“For many of us, Folklorama is home; it is tradition and a place of belonging,” said Teresa Cotroneo, the festival’s executive director. 

In 2019, during its 50th anniversary celebration, Folklorama saw the largest attendance in over 10 years with 455,000 guest visits. 

The Israel Pavilion at Folklorama. (Dr. Tse Li Luk)

It was set this year to run from Aug. 2-15 at venues around the city.

“Our event is built on people coming together, not just during two weeks in August, but for many months prior to prepare to welcome festival goers into pavilions with pride,” said Stan Hall, president of the Folklorama board of directors.

“There will be a time and place where we can all celebrate together, but following the government of Manitoba guidelines, it cannot be this summer. We look forward to welcoming the world Aug. 1 to 14, 2021.”

Several other major summer festivals in Manitoba have already announced cancellations, including the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival and Dauphin’s Countryfest.

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