Mandy Morris leads a workshop for youth to prepare them for a show during Hay Days in July of 2019.
NNSL file photo

Hay Days won’t be happening this coming summer.

The management committee of the music, arts and cultural festival announced on Feb. 25 that it has been postponed to next year.

“A number of key management roles were vacated due to personal commitments and several new members have joined the ranks to begin learning the hundreds of tasks involved under each of the committee leads,” the announcement reads.

The next Hay Days – which will be the 10th year of the festival – will take place from July 6 to 10, 2021.

Hay Days was taken over as a project of the Rotary Club of Hay River Sunrise in 2017 following a one-year festival hiatus in 2016 taken by a group of volunteers that had previously presented the event.

The festival’s management committee is a subcommittee of the Rotary Club.

Lee Cawson, the treasurer of the Rotary Club and Hay Days, said it was disappointing to have to postpone the event.

“We really like what the festival has become,” he said. “We were more concerned with putting on a poorer festival. Like trying to put it together without the proper support and having it not come off very well or poorly organized. We were more concerned about that than we were about not running it.”

Cawson provided more information on the three key positions that are vacant.

Dewey Roy, who did all the bookings for musicians, left Hay River to return home to Saskatchewan.

April Glaicar, who was the festival’s co-ordinator, has some other personal projects and her daughter is getting married this year.

And, Michelle Schaub, who co-ordinated the volunteers, has stepped back from the Rotary Club due to other commitments.

Cawson noted that is three of the five people on the management committee.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces for the Hay Days Festival and a lot of work that gets done, and that was a concern,” he said. “With that many people transitioning in one year, it was hard to get everybody back up to speed.”

Cawson said planning for Hay Days actually starts about a year in advance of the event.

It is hoped that the vacant management positions will be filled by the spring or summer.

Cawson was asked if there is any worry that a year off might lessen interest in the festival.

“I think it’s always a concern when you take a year off, but I think we’ve had such good support and the comments that I’ve had from people I think everybody is disappointed,” he said, adding he believes people will return next year, along with the corporate sponsorships.

From 2017 to 2019, the festival grew into a five-day celebration with an operating budget of approximately $160,000 and over 60 volunteers.

Hay Days Festival 2019 showcased more than 70 NWT musicians and 15 NWT artisans through over 40 workshops, two artisan markets, seven performance venues and several free public events.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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