Folklorama spirit set to return
Multicultural festival kickoff a celebration as pavilions prepare to open
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This article was published 24/07/2022 (319 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Culture and community are alive and well in Winnipeg as the world’s largest and longest-running multicultural festival prepares to return after a two-year pandemic-induced break.
Winnipeg Folklorama celebrated its 51st anniversary Saturday night, kicking off the annual two-week cultural celebration with a day of free activities at Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s Lyric Theatre.
“It’s surreal (to return) after what we’ve been through, but I’m just full of excitement,” said Teresa Cotroneo, Folklorama’s executive director. “The success of this year really will just be measured in having the whole spirit of our organization reignited… people attending the festival is important to us, but really, truly, it’s about being able to see people (come together).”
While the festival’s pavilions don’t officially open until next week, the kickoff allowed attendees to sample upcoming cultural activities, organizers said.
Cotroneo attended the event, which began at 4 p.m. and included cultural workshops, performances and an ambassadors parade featuring representatives from this year’s pavilions.
Typically, around 40 different cultures participate in Folklorama. Numbers are lower this year, with only 24 pavilions registered, but Cotroneo is confident participation will return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming years.
“There still was a lot of uncertainty, and I am really proud of the communities that were able to take the chance and worked really hard to get back here. And, we’re wanting to support the ones who we can’t wait to see again next year,” she said.
In 2019, 6,000 volunteers dedicated more than 33,000 hours to making Folklorama possible, Cotroneo said, adding that those numbers account only for the two-week festival and not the nine months of planning.
Folklorama operates with a budget of $2.5 million and is supported by sponsorships and grants from the province and Winnipeg Arts Council. It also raises its own funds with cultural programming.
During the festival, Folklorama keeps 50 per cent of admission sales, but the communities hosting the cultural activities retain the other half along with any money spent on their pavilions, Cotroneo said.
In 2012, the organization estimated the festival as having a $13 million gross impact on Winnipeg’s local economy. That money goes directly to hospitality providers, businesses, restaurants and community members, she added.
“(We) don’t realize how much impact and tradition we have in the fabric of Manitoban’s lives, and (the festival) is always a really good reminder of what we work all year for,” she said.
Folklorama’s pavilions open on July 31 and close Aug. 13. A full schedule of events is available online.