Three Rivers' festival group settles differences and shares 2021 summer plan

·2 min read

THREE RIVERS - Though getting to this point wasn't a smooth process at first, the region's three biggest summer festivals have found a way to collaborate for the 2021 season.

"We would be marketing it all together as a Three Rivers summer series," events co-ordinator Cathleen MacKinnon said, who spoke on behalf of the festival committee.

Committee members outlined the plan for this year's festivals during a Three Rivers council meeting on Feb. 22. Some of the region's communities have traditionally held their own festivals every summer, namely Canada Day celebrations in Cardigan and the Summer Days celebrations in Georgetown and Montague.

But following Three Rivers' 2018 amalgamation some community groups were concerned they'd lose their identity - or potential attendees if the festivals were to co-occur across multiple communities at once.

Last year's festivals were ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19, which allowed the committee more time to get on the same page. The summer series will take place throughout July, and the committee requested a budget increase from council to fund all three festivals.

Pending this summer's COVID-19 guidelines, Canada Day in Cardigan will take place on July 1 and see the addition of a night-time concert and fireworks at the Old Brudenell Park. Then, Georgetown's Summer Days will showcase its usual offerings over the July 14 to 18 weekend.

Montague's festival will be rebranded as the Three Rivers Arts and Culture Festival and occur over the July 30 to Aug. 1. weekend. The festival has incorporated the P.E.I. Association of Newcomer's DiverCity event in the past, so the plan is to delve more into that theme all weekend long.

As well, the committee plans to arrange 19-plus events for the Montague festival. Packaging the three festivals will allow their organizers to fundraise together, share resources and cross-promote other businesses and organizations that could bring more traffic to the area.

"There are so many other things that will be happening all summer," committee member Mallory Peters said. "Literally, pick a day in Three Rivers and you're going to be able to find something."

The budget increase is largely to manage COVID-19 cohorts and social distancing regulations. The committee's request was moved forward to be decided upon at council's next meeting.

Several councillors commended the committee's work following the few months of tension and miscommunication last year. Coun. Cody Jenkins noted it was a prime example of how council ought to be patient with existing community groups as Three Rivers works to establish its own identity.

"Forcing them is not, I don't believe, the answer," he said.

Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian