COVID-19: Hot Summer Bummer

Ordinarily around this time of year I’d be getting started on our Hot Summer Guide. It runs in our last June issue, and highlights a range of music/theatre festivals, fairs and other special events that are planned for Regina, Saskatoon and Saskatchewan’s “Hinterland” in the period from late June until Labour Day weekend.

Some years, spring may have already arrived. Other years, we might still be in the grip of winter. But regardless, the exercise always serves as a bit of a tonic as it allows me to look ahead to all the fun and fellowship that people across the province have planned over the summer months.

This year, though, it’s a much different situation.  Because of all the uncertainty around the pandemic, and the restrictions placed on large public gatherings, organizers of many popular events have made the difficult decision to cancel for 2020.

Others are still in wait-and-see mode. But the odds of them going ahead, especially those that are planned for late June and the month of July, are probably pretty long — especially for events that feature national and international performers due to the logistics of touring during the pandemic.

The list of cancellations so far includes the Regina and Saskatoon International Fringe Festivals, SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, Regina Summer Stage production of The Little Mermaid, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, Windscape Kite Festival and Long Day’s Night Music Festival (Swift Current) and Ness Creek Music Festival (Big River). Another big cancellation will be announced later today.

That’s in addition to popular pre-summer events such as the Cathedral Village Arts Festival (Regina) and Nature City Festival (Saskatoon) which have been cancelled, and the two June Pride festivals which have been postponed with some events possibly held this fall. Saskatoon Opera’s production of La Traviata has also been postponed.

As for events that still hope to go ahead, they include Country Thunder Saskatchewan (Craven), Saskatchewan Festival of Words (Moose Jaw), Gateway Music Festival (Bengough), Regina and Saskatoon Exhibitions, Northern Lights Bluegrass Festival (Big River) and Rock the River (Saskatoon). Access to provincial and national parks for camping, fishing and other wilderness activities is also still t.b.d.

It’s not that summer itself is being cancelled, of course. We can still expect to see longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures and a flourishing of plant and animal life. It might require some out-of-the-box thinking, but hopefully people will find a way to have a safe and fulfilling summer.