The return of ManyFest
City’s biggest street party takes over Memorial park after two-year pandemic hiatus
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/09/2022 (193 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Downtown Winnipeg’s largest free street festival is back on the road after a two-year pandemic hiatus. ManyFest runs Friday to Sunday with a full slate of music, food and family-friendly activities.
Organizers are looking forward to bringing the community together over the lure of fried food and free entertainment.
“It’s a really great opportunity for folks from all over the city and from the downtown corridor to come down and participate,” says festival director Jason Smith. “It’s fun to have normal events coming back again and to be able to gather like this and showcase music and art.”
Prior to the pandemic, ManyFest ran every September for nine years straight until 2019. This year’s in-person celebration will feature a return of crowd-favourite events and some new additions.
For three days, food trucks, stages, beer gardens, market stalls, basketball courts and carnival rides will take over the greenspace and roadway between Memorial Boulevard and Broadway in front of the Manitoba Legislative Building.
The annual Food Truck Wars will see 37 businesses go head-to-head in a competition to crown the city’s top mobile restaurant. Attendees and a panel of local judges will determine this year’s winner; categories include people’s choice, best presentation, best bang for your buck, most original and judge’s choice. The field is smaller than usual — the 2019 edition had 53 entrants — which Smith chalks up to the pandemic.
“Year over year, we always gained a few food trucks but we’re down a little bit,” he says. “I think that’s probably an unfortunate reality of two pretty lean years for people in the business.”
The festival grounds include two stages which will host live music daily. Local artists, Romi Mayes, Sierra Noble and Victoria Turko are set to headline the main stage sponsored by the Winnipeg Folk Festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Catch sets by DJ K Chedda and DJ Lambo over at the Lakeside Lounge, as well as live band karaoke and a drag queen review. Football viewing parties will take place at the latter during the day on Saturday and Sunday.
ManyFest is fully licensed, so visitors can wander with their alcoholic beverages.
New this year is a pup patio next to the main stage tavern. Well-behaved pooches (and their owners) are invited to hang out off-leash in a fully-fenced, pop-up dog park. The area includes kiddy pools, agility and climbing structure, a water station, balls and shade umbrellas.
“People like to bring dogs and we thought it would be fun to create a little dog park area so people’s dogs can interact with each other,” Smith says, adding that owners must be in the pup patio at all times and dogs must be leashed elsewhere on the grounds.
ManyFest is also flexing some new athletic events.
Festivalgoers can watch elite, recreational, youth and wheelchair basketball teams hoop it up in a competitive three on three tournament throughout the weekend. And on Saturday, Winnipeg Pro Wrestling fighters will throw down during a live match at 7 p.m. in Memorial Park. Come early for a chance to get a photo in the ring.
With so many events and attractions — including carnival rides and a family fun zone — it’s hard for some to believe that ManyFest is, in fact, free to attend.
“People often write in to (ask) ‘Where do I get tickets?’ That’s the beauty of this thing,” Smith says. “It’s totally free and open to anybody who wants to come down.”
Visit manyfest.ca for more information.
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Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.