Unique festival con­tin­ues to at­tract many vis­i­tors to Swift Cur­rent

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Front Page - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG — mlieben­berg@prairiepost.com

A unique festival that com­bines kite fly­ing with var­i­ous other ac­tiv­i­ties to pro­vide en­ter­tain­ment for the en­tire fam­ily con­tin­ues to at­tract many vis­i­tors to Swift Cur­rent.

Facts and fig­ures have been re­leased about the 14th an­nual SaskPower Wind­scape Kite Festival that high­lights the suc­cess of this year's event.

The 2018 Wind­scape Kite Festival took place June 23-24 and at­tracted about 8,500 vis­i­tors.

Sheri Flori­zone, the cul­tural fes­ti­vals direc­tor for the Wind­scape Kite Festival and the associated Long Day’s Night Mu­sic Festival, feels it was a good num­ber.

“The festival went re­ally well with a lot of great plans for next year al­ready,” she said.

“One of the spe­cial things we did this year was to work with a team of videog­ra­phers and so we’re go­ing to have a re­ally fan­tas­tic cou­ple of videos that we’re go­ing to be able to use in the fu­ture for next year for pro­mo­tion and en­gage­ment around the festival.”

A sur­vey of fes­ti­val­go­ers in­di­cated that 100 per cent of them will rec­om­mend Wind­scape to fam­ily and friends. Flori­zone be­lieves vis­i­tors en­joy the festival so much be­cause it is very unique.

“It's not just for fly­ers,” she said. “There's ac­tiv­i­ties as well. So it re­ally rounds out to be this fan­tas­tic fam­ily ex­pe­ri­ence. It's very unique for the prairies.”

There were 42 celebrity kite fly­ers at this year's festival. They came from Canada, the United States and other parts of the world. They also com­mented on how dif­fer­ent Wind­scape is com­pared to other kite fly­ing events.

“They said they re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated our event be­cause although we’re not the only kite festival in Canada or in the world, we have a very unique event, she men­tioned.

“It’s not just kite fly­ing for the fly­ers – it’s lessons, it’s be­ing able to make your own kite, it’s be­ing able to buy your own kite, do dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties with your fam­ily, with your chil­dren, and our picnic area and be­ing able to spend the full two days if you want there, en­joy­ing the time and ac­tiv­i­ties that we of­fer. So it was re­ally nice to hear from the fly­ers them­selves, not just all the won­der­ful com­ments we get from the vis­i­tors as well.”

A sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of at­ten­dees at the festival will be peo­ple who are re­turn­ing to Wind­scape be­cause they en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence so much.

“I heard that quite a bit,” she said. “It's def­i­nitely some­thing peo­ple re­turn to each year and I think that speaks to the va­ri­ety of the fly­ers that we have. We've got two full days of performances by the celebrity fly­ers plus ev­ery year we're al­ways look­ing for new en­ter­tain­ment. This year we had a lovely gui­tar player cum ma­gi­cian and just the most fab­u­lous stilt walker.”

At­ten­dance num­bers on the four nights of the Long Day's Night Mu­sic Festival were also good at around 1,700 peo­ple from June 21-24.

The Thurs­day night show by the pop­u­lar Saskatchewan band The Dead South was sold out.

There was good at­ten­dance the fol­low­ing two evenings, but it was a bit lower on Sun­day night.

“Sun­day kind of slows down a lit­tle bit, but any­body that was there was re­ally treated to a spe­cial evening,” she said.

“Tara Light­foot ac­tu­ally brought ev­ery­body out into the sun­set and played a song, and it kind of makes the whole week­end worth it when you have mo­ments like that dur­ing the festival.”

It takes a lot of plan­ning and ded­i­ca­tion to ar­range the Wind­scape Kite Festival and the suc­cess of the event is only pos­si­ble through the in­volve­ment of var­i­ous part­ners and fun­ders as well as the en­thu­si­asm of over 200 vol­un­teers.

This was a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Flori­zone, who was ap­pointed as cul­tural fes­ti­vals direc­tor in 2017 af­ter Shann Gowan's re­tire­ment.

“It was def­i­nitely a whirl­wind ex­pe­ri­ence,” Flori­zone said. “There's so much work and ef­fort put into set­ting up for the SaskPower Wind­scape Kite Festival and also the Long Day's Night Mu­sic Festival. It was re­ally in­cred­i­ble to see how ev­ery­one works to­gether to get that set up. I re­ally would have to thank Shann Gowan for still be­ing by my side dur­ing this year and pro­vid­ing her ex­per­tise and her knowl­edge, and also the festival as­sis­tant Keely Wil­liams, who of course has been in­volved with the festival from the be­gin­ning and re­ally was in­valu­able.

“There's just so much to know and I know that ev­ery year will be a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, not just this first year.”

Photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

Cul­tural Fes­ti­vals Direc­tor Sheri Flori­zone made a pre­sen­ta­tion about the 2018 Wind­scape Kite Festival and Long Day's Night Mu­sic Festival at a reg­u­lar City of Swift Cur­rent coun­cil meet­ing, July 30.

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