There’s one last chance this year to experience St-BoniFest, a free music festival offering a diverse line-up of entertainment and a space for artisans at Coronation Park, located where Taché Avenue intersects with St. Mary’s Road.
The final event of the season will take place Sat., Sept. 25 from noon to 6 p.m. with performers Jeremie and the Delicious Hounds, Sala, Burnstick, Abrielle, and the Justin Lacroix Band.
As a long-time resident of St. Boniface, musician Lacroix said he has walked many times in the area envisioning live performances in the green space.
"This space seemed to be beckoning a little festival to manifest, and so I started imagining what that might look like. In the spring of 2019, I decided to see if I could be the one to make this festival come to life and St-BoniFest was born," Lacroix said, explaining how he came to be founder and organizer of St-BoniFest.
With his experience volunteering at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and through consultation with music colleagues, Lacroix began building his dream, resulting in a series of day festivals.
"I decided that a one day-festival around the 20th of each of the summer months would be a good way to get the most out of this idea," he said.
"In its first year, we presented three editions - July, August and September (ideally, there would be one in June as well but we’re still working on that) and showcased roughly 20 artists as well as some magicians, a poet and even a line-dancing instruction."
Though the COVID pandemic has created some challenges over the past two years, Lacroix persevered with help of friends and a few volunteers.
"In the summer of 2020, we managed to put together two events and saw that the desire for the festival to take place was still present."
This summer St-BoniFest partnered with Le 100 NONS, the organization for francophone music in Manitoba, which added a co-ordinator to help with logistics and communications.
"Not everyone can afford tickets to festivals or are able to travel outside of the city," Lacroix said. "St-BoniFest is an event that is free to all and right in the middle of the city, in St. Boniface.
"We have also included an awareness and support to a local goodwill organization element to the festival - with each festival day, we chose an organization to support by sharing the good word of the good work they are doing as well as raising a bit of money for them. The clearest impact I see is just in the well-being attendees seem to step into as they arrive and settle in. It’s such a joy to see people enjoy music and community."
Lacroix hopes to expand on his dream, adding different elements to the festival and working with more collaborators and partners to keep the event accessible to all while ensuring that artists are paid for their contribution.
"It doesn’t take much to have a positive impact on your community. A smile, a hello, picking up a piece of garbage, sending out kindness. We live in a bad-news world and the more we can bring a bit of good to the moments we live, the more we and our community will live well."
The option to view the festival virtually has been added for anyone who might not feel comfortable attending in person.
St. Boniface community correspondent
Janine LeGal is a community correspondent for St. Boniface.