Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Folklorama attendance down for 2012

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Folklorama attendance was down for 2012, but organizers of the two-week annual celebration of Manitoba's cultural diversity are still declaring it a success.

"It's definitely good news from our front," said Debra Zoerb, executive director of Folklorama.

More than 405,000 people visited 43 pavilions compared with 432,000 in 2011, when there were 45 pavilions.

The tally of 405,000 visitors is only preliminary. Zoerb is still waiting for final numbers.

"Everything is done very grassroots with Folklorama and all the admissions are done manually -- they're all cash admissions," she explained before noting even at the current count, landing on target appears to be in the cards.

"When all the final calculations are done, we're going to come out in a good place and it would certainly be on par with what we expect," she said.

Folklorama president Rayleen De Luca said the success of this year's festival testifies to Manitobans' sincere interest in learning about different cultures.

"With the Olympic coverage during Week 1 of Folklorama and the beautiful weather we experienced, we were very conservative in our expectations for this year," said De Luca. "But leave it to the people in our province to still come out by the hundreds of thousands and prove that the passion amongst our communities for celebrating, experiencing and preserving our cultural mosaic is far too significant and far too fun to keep us away."

Folklorama tried new initatives to increase attendance this year, including a VIP Cycle Tour. The pilot pilot project could be expanded in future years, Zoerb said.

"We would like to include more pavilions that people could access by going on a cycle tour," Zoerb said, while speaking about Folklorama in the future. "The tours themselves were fantastic and the people who went on them had a blast."

Since emerging on the Winnipeg scene in 1970, Folklorama has become the largest and longest-running multicultural festival in the world. Pavilion-goers can already mark their calendars for next year, when the festival is set to run from Aug. 4 to Aug. 17, 2013.

kristy.hoffman@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2012 B2

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