Edmonton Folk Fest cancelled for second consecutive year due to COVID-19 pandemic

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The Edmonton Folk Music Festival has been cancelled for a second straight summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, festival producer Terry Wickham announced the cancellation of the popular August music festival in Gallagher Park. There are still too many variables at play to move forward with such a large festival where physical distancing wouldn’t be possible, Wickham said, pointing to the spread of COVID-19 variants as an area of concern.

“As profoundly disappointing as this news is, we believe this is the only safe way forward,” Wickham said in a statement. “The safety of our patrons, volunteers, and artists was of paramount importance in coming to this conclusion.”

The festival, which was scheduled to run Aug. 5-8, typically has about 25,000 attendees a day. This is the first major summer festival in Edmonton to be cancelled this year. Organizers of other festivals are continuing to work with the city and health officials to look at options for hosting modified events if restrictions allow. The Silver Skate Festival and Flying Canoë Volant are two winter festivals in the city that were able to continue while adhering to COVID-19 public health orders.

Premier Jason Kenney said Monday that large festivals should be able to proceed when the province reaches 64 per cent immunity to the virus, which is projected for the end of June.

“There will be no formal restrictions. (The Calgary) Stampede, sporting events, other festivals will be possible especially if outdoors, likely with certain public health precautions,” Kenney said of the province’s projected recovery at the end of June if the vaccine rollout continues as planned. “Masks and distancing will be part of our lives, but only encouraged and not mandated.”

Although there won’t be an in-person festival, Wickham said the Folk Fest will continue to build online content and if small gatherings are allowed this summer then there could be the potential for community engagement. Updates will be posted on the festival’s website. 

The festival intends to be back on the Gallagher Park hill in August 2022.

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