At least 3 Edmonton festivals will be going ahead in some capacity this summer
EDMONTON -- With the announcement of Alberta’s reopening plan Wednesday, festivals and camps in the province are left to decide how and if they want to proceed with their events.
According to the premier, Alberta is weeks from festivals or concerts having 150 people in attendance. In July public health restrictions could be dropped entirely.
Edmonton Heritage Festival is one event already planning to be back this summer with COVID protocols in place.
“Ecstasy, so happy,” exclaimed executive director Jim Gibbon. “We're probably going to be about 75 per cent of the historic pavilions.”
The festival plans to have touchless food tickets, timed entry for crowd control and circles on the ground to distance people while they eat.
“We’ve been sort of planning for this the whole year and we’re excited,” said Gibbon. “We have all the cultural groups that want to take part.”
Gibbons says there won’t be any international acts this year, but there will still be music and cultural pavilions for people to enjoy.
Taste of Edmonton will also be back in Churchill Square this summer with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
'A LOT OF CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM AT THIS POINT'
But not everyone is excited about the plan, including Brent Oliver a local arts director.
“It seems like – to use a rodeo term – the cart has been put away before the horse, and the Stampede is more dictating this than public health measures.”
Oliver says live events take time to plan, and with audiences feeling less comfortable and international travel restrictions still in place he says Albertans should prepare to be patient.
“Indoor live music I think by the end of the year, I think October, November,” he said. “I think it really needs to come down to second shots of the vaccine.”
The Edmonton Fringe Festival is planning a “significantly reduced event” saying in a statement, “We’re busy behind the scenes planning multiple potential scenarios and are closely collaborating with government agencies and industry partners as we consider pandemic impacts and above all else, the safety of fringers.”
Planning is underway for events aimed at younger Albertans. The YWCA is preparing to potentially host overnight camps at 50 per cent capacity.
“A lot of cautious optimism at this point,” said Terry Konyi, director of Camp Yowochas.
But with the majority of campers still not eligible for a vaccine, safety is still a high priority.
“We are going to work closely with Alberta Camping Association and Alberta Health Services to ensure we aren’t causing any undue risk.”
Several organizers say masking, distancing and additional requirements may still be required of attendees because sacrificing safety for the “best summer ever” isn’t worth it.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Chelan Skulski.