What happens when you pair up two loud, colourful and popular festivals in Saskatoon’s downtown? The chair of the Saskatoon Pride Festival, Danny Papadatos says you get one explosive day of entertainment. “If we can pull this off, it’ll be magic!”
This year, the Saskatoon Pride Festival and the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival are pooling their resources to do a joint party in Kiwanis Park North. It’s a partnership that’s been in the works for a couple years now. The idea started as the Pride festival was nearing its 25th anniversary. “This year we are really shaking things up,” says Papadatos. “The Pride festival has expanded to two weeks and there was one day of overlap with the jazz festival. We jumped at the opportunity.”
The artistic director of the jazz festival Kevin Tobin says the idea of melding the two celebrations is a tricky one because of capacity. “When Danny approached us my initial reaction was one of panic,” he says. “We were already in the process of moving the free stage, because of bridge construction, and I didn’t know how we’d accommodate the crowd. But the pros far outweighed the challenges.” Papadatos adds, “Creating a mega-festival allows us to take a step back and create a festival for our entire community.”
On June 24th the PotashCorp Free Stage will be a joint venture between the organizations. The pride parade will end at Kiwanis Park North and then the music will keep the party going. The entertainment on stage features local acts like country vocalist Jessica Robinson and indie pop band Soft Cotton and the evening wraps with a feature performance by Canadian rocker Hawksley Workman. “We are so excited to have a strong, queer Canadian artist on board,” says Papadatos. “Every act between 2:00p.m. and 8:00p.m. has a queer aspect to it. It’s going to be a celebration of our queer community and queer artistry.”
“It’s going to be a celebration of our queer community and queer artistry.”
When it comes to space, the festivals are looking into blocking off a section of Spadina Cres. so the audience can spill out into the street between 22nd St. and 23rd St.. A block of 21st St. will also be blocked off for an outdoor market so people can walk around, enjoy the music, shopping, food and drink.
Tobin says all these plans have invigorated his team. “Partnering with pride has brought a new energy to the festival and changed the way we look at our event. It’s a chance to celebrate, explore and promote musical talent with a new audience for both events.”
This party kicks off 10 days of music at the jazz festival and the team has just announced its full lineup for all the free stages. Local acts you’ll see about town include B.C. Read, Mo’Love and Maurice Drouin. Festival favourite Delhi 2 Dublin will be back and the world music feel will continue with acts like the Hailu Mergia Trio which will bring the sounds of Ethiopian jazz to the stage.
Click here for the full lineup.