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Coronavirus: Folkfest finds way to share Saskatoon’s cultures with virtual event

“Folkfest Gives Back – Connecting through Culture” will be streamed this Saturday after the in-person event was indefinitely postponed by COVID-19.
“Folkfest Gives Back – Connecting through Culture” will be streamed this Saturday after the in-person event was indefinitely postponed by COVID-19. David Stobbe / StobbePhoto.ca

A virtual event is being put on in the absence of the 2020 Saskatoon Folkfest this weekend.

It was announced on May 7 that the summertime tradition would not be possible this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Drive-in rock ‘n’ roll shows at SaskTel Centre cancelled

“Last year’s pavilion visits that we recorded were over 250,000 visits,” Saskatoon Folkfest executive director Terresa Strohan.

“But it’s going to be a very different year.”

This summer would have marked the 41st edition of the event.

“When you look at anything that’s been involved in the community for 40 years, you’re now talking about multi-generational volunteers and pavilions. We have some pavilions that have been with us all 40 of the festivals,” Strohan said.

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“Five thousand volunteers put their heart and soul into those pavilions every year, to get the entertainment and food and cultural aspects ready to go. So it really was just a monumental impact for our organization and all of our 21 cultural members.”

Although many summer events are not going ahead in their usual form during the pandemic, organizers have found another way to celebrate the city’s diversity and inclusiveness with “Folkfest Gives Back – Connecting through Culture.”

“Once the decision was made that an in-person festival wasn’t going to be possible. The board really was determined to find a way to still be a part of the community and connect with the community and that’s where Folkfest Gives Back came to be,” Strohan said.

“It’s going to be a virtual event … we’ve recorded performances from many different pavilions and cultural performances.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Summertime fireworks festival in Saskatoon pushed into winter

Strohan said it’s also an opportunity to try things they haven’t done before such as cooking demonstrations.

“We were really delighted that so many of our pavilions were willing to open up their homes and their kitchens and record some of their favourite dishes and be able to show our watching guests how to be able to make the dishes,” Strohan said.

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“We’re hoping that people will enjoy trying these dishes on their own.”

Felicitas Santos-Vargas, who’s been involved with Folkfest since 1980, shared a dish made with Filipino-style noodles called pancit ahead of the virtual festival.

Virtual Folkfest: Taste of the Philippines
Virtual Folkfest: Taste of the Philippines

Over four decades, she said, not much has changed with the festival.

“Nothing really has changed for me, because when you are involved and when you have your dedication, your commitment, we have the pride of showing off what we have from our culture,” Santos-Vargas said.

“And I think it’s really important to know other culture is to understand or to accept what we have. And one of the (best ways) to do that is share the food that we have.”

The virtual event will be livestreamed on Saskatoon Folkfest’s Facebook page and YouTube channel on Aug. 15 at 7 p.m.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

Coronavirus: Safety and financial concerns factors for postponed summer festivals
Coronavirus: Safety and financial concerns factors for postponed summer festivals