Edmonton festival organizers optimistic for record year despite challenges

It’s that time of year again when Edmonton — also known as Canada’s “festival city” — is gearing up for another fun-filled summer.

Many organizers are hoping for a record year, but there are concerns about inflation and more wildfire smoke coming to the Capital region.

Thursday it was all hands on deck, as dozens of volunteers set up for the Edmonton Ukrainian Festival.

“We are presenting performances, choirs, musicians, dancers as well as food, food vendors, food trucks,” UFest Edmonton Ukrainian Festival president Christine Teterenko said.

The free, two-day event runs from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Friday and continues into Saturday going from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Borden Park.

Teterenko said she’s anticipating a big turn out.

“We have seen growth every year and I don’t think that we have finished growing yet, so I do anticipate that this is going to be our biggest year so far,” Teterenko said.

While the stage and tents get set up, organizers are also preparing for a possible return of wildfire smoke.

“If we hit an Air Quality (Health Index) of seven, then we re-evaluate certain activities — especially those for children and seniors. And we would be also be talking to our performing groups,” Teterenko said.

Smoke and air quality are not the only factors festivals are up against this summer.

“Overall inflation in general has impacted us, as far as production and staging, and tents and everything. Just like everything else, prices have gone up,” Teterenko said.

Taste of Edmonton said despite food prices going up, it’s trying to keeps costs down.

“So we worked really hard with our partners to try and keep the pricing the same. We haven’t increased our pricing since 2018,” Taste of Edmonton general manager, Donovan Vienneau said.

Vienneau said it has been hard to keep food costs down these days but the festivals partners have helped.

“It’s a matter of them working within their portion sizes and having that same great experience of Taste of Edmonton,” Vienneau said.

Taste of Edmonton is only a month away. Vienneau is excited and despite all the challenges, he believes this year will bring out big crowds and thinks people are ready to celebrate.

“This year is a brand new year. We’re excited. The doors are going to be open for everybody,” Vienneau said.

This year, Taste of Edmonton runs from July 20 to 29, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. And on July 30 from 11 a.m. till 9 p.m. at Churchill Square.

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