'Incredibly nervous': Sask. festivals consider future amid COVID-19 concerns

Saskatchewan music festivals are adapting amid concerns about the coronavirus.

Some, like the Ness Creek Music Festival and Country Thunder, aren't yet looking to postpone. Others, like the Mosaic Festival of Cultures in Regina, have already decided to not go as scheduled.

Nish Prasard, chair of the 2020 Mosaic Festival and vice-president of the Regina Multicultural Council, said no one envisioned something like COVID-19.

"It's a totally different world right now and it has impacted everybody across the world," Prasard said.

"We were really looking forward to hosting — but we have just adjusted — given the circumstances where we are in today," he said. 

Evan Radford

The festival was supposed to begin on May 30, 2020. Prasard said it is tentatively planned for mid to late-August, but that may change. Prasard said that if it would need to be pushed back further, it would be cancelled and the council would focus on 2021. 

"It's a very disappointing situation to be in but the health and safety of the people comes first," he said. "There's a lot of planning coordination that goes into putting an event of this scale. So we'll keep monitoring the situation and we will have to make a call at an appropriate time."

Regina Multicultural Council

Carlie Letts said Ness Creek Music Festival organizers are working as though the event will happen, but monitoring the situation closely. 

Letts is one of three festival managers for the Ness Creek Music Festival. The event is held each year near Big River, Sask., north of Saskatoon.

"I'm from Saskatchewan, we consider ourselves to be tough and able to handle any adversary that comes our way," Letts said. "But obviously we're incredibly nervous."

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Letts said they haven't set a date yet for when they will decide if the festival goes ahead or not. 

"Really, this is a lot of monitoring the situation and hoping to see some positive results from the initiatives and rules and regulations that the government has passed down over the course of the past week to 10 days," she said. 

The 2020 Festival was also supposed to be the 30th anniversary of the event. Letts said this makes the situation even more heartbreaking.

The next board meeting is mid to late-April, Letts said. By then, organizers hope to have a better idea of how everything is going. Letts said they have backup dates later in the summer or early fall, but they are not considering those options yet. 

The festival has created an online open mic page called 'The Beat Goes On(line).' It's a place for artists of years past and this year to share recordings and more. 

"We can at least try to keep people feeling a little bit uplifted, positive and connected," she said. 

Bryan Eneas/CBC News

The Cathedral Village Arts Festival said it is going to move to an entirely online format. 

"Despite the current situation we are maintaining our commitment to inspiring and bringing joy to our community and the citizens of Regina," the festival said in a release.

The festival organizers said vendors will be included. 

Country Thunder is normally held each year in July at Craven, Sask. Some earlier Country Thunder festivals in the U.S. have already been postponed. 

"[Things are] hectic for all the wrong reasons right now," Gerry Krochak, the general manager at Country Thunder, said. 

Country Thunder hasn't decided to postpone Saskatchewan's festival yet. The next festival for the travelling group is Iowa. Krochak said they are working on that one next.

Cory Coleman/CBC

Country Thunder owns the festival land and Krochak they are hearing artists want to play. 

"That's how they get paid. So we're all in the same boat," he said.