There was no shortage of sights to take in over this past weekend, with both the Regina Folk Festival and the Queen City Ex returning in full swing.
But while the two events overlapped on the calendar, organizers of both say there was no shortage of excitement at either summer favourite.
Regina Folk Fest returns to downtown
Regina Folk Festival took over Victoria Park from Friday through Sunday, delivering a lineup of talented performers for the 51st year.
Artistic director Amber Goodwyn said after a two-year on hiatus from Victoria Park, seeing a burgeoning crowd cover the green space in front of the stage felt like a testament to the festival’s long-standing history.
“It was really nice to see the community that’s been built up over the last 50 years,” said Goodwyn. “They were just so happy it was back, because it’s their favorite weekend in Regina.”
While the official numbers aren’t tabulated yet, Goodwyn said turnout was absolutely on par with previous years, which typically average around 35,000 people.
The lineup of performers was naturally the biggest draw, as were the free programming events like the artists talks, workshops and youth stage.
“Our main stage was just so inspiring,” said Goodwyn. “All incredibly unique artists that don’t really have anyone you can compare them to.”
She said Inuit throat-singing duo PIQSIQ was an unexpected favorite when they took the stage Friday night to some typical Saskatchewan wind.
“There was these beautiful, long, silken streamers floating out above the crowd with this circular, ever-expanding, improvised vocal magician-work going on (and) it was just a really cool kick-off.”
Goodwyn said RFF continues to be one of the few music festivals in western Canada to offer as many free performances as it does, an element she feels keeps the festival popular.
“I’m so glad that people really soak it up and enjoy it as much as they do,” said Goodwyn. “The audience helps create that magic. They’re half of the equation of why this all works.”
Queen City Ex smashes attendance records
On the other side of the city’s centre, folks also flocked through the gates of the Queen City Ex to enjoy classic fair food, rides and shows.
REAL District CEO Tim Reid said Tuesday that this year was the best QCX in the event’s 138-year history, exceeding the expectations of organizers.
“I would say that this was the year that we transitioned from a good fair to a great one,” said Reid.
More than 278,000 people were in attendance between Aug. 3-7, shattering the record set last year during the eight-day fair and previous benchmarks set by 2019’s event.
“To put it into perspective, more people attended the fair than live in Regina,” said Reid.
American artist Jason Derulo drew one of the largest concert crowds in exhibition history, and more than 7,700 people attended the two-day Pile O’ Bones rodeo — another best.
Reid said that while the numbers tabulated this year were unexpectedly high, he’s not surprised to see the event flourish.
He credited the large crowds partially to organizers’ continued investments into safety policies, cleanliness and entertainment acquisition.
But it also shows how eager the public is to get back to enjoying events like QCX, a long-standing favorite for Regina summers.
“People are looking to get back to entertainment,” said Reid. “And so if you’re looking to dip your toe into the water of live events again, the fair is probably a good place.”
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