While some other events are taking a pass on 2021 because of Covid-19, the Hay Days Festival is not one of them.

The music, arts and cultural festival, which skipped 2020 for non-Covid-related reasons, will be appearing for the 10th time from June 29 to July 3.

“It’s not an anniversary, because the event hasn’t happened annually in recent years,” said April Glaicar, the festival co-ordinator. “So it’s the 10th release, just like an album release.”

Glaicar said the decision to proceed has been made by the Rotary Club of Hay River Sunrise, which has organized the event since 2017.

April Glaicar – pictured in 2018 – is the co-ordinator of the Hay Days Festival, an event featuring music, arts and cultural activities. NNSL file photo

An official announcement that this year’s Hay Days Festival would be going ahead was made on March 22.

Glaicar said the festival will be held about one week earlier than normal, partly to create better spacing with Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife and the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik.

However, that means it will include Canada Day, so the festival schedule will avoid conflicting with Town of Hay River events celebrating the national holiday.

“On Canada Day itself, we will be encouraging people to participate in Town of Hay River scheduling, and pick up with Hay Days the following two days,” Glaicar said, noting there will only be one festival event on the evening of July 1. “So we will all go out and celebrate and support the Town of Hay River.”

Covid-19 precautions will also create some changes for the festival.

“We’ve always taken advantage of the outdoors for our festival and we’ll be doing that again this year, of course,” said Glaicar. “And some events that previously weren’t outdoors will likely be outdoors.”

The festival will also need more volunteers to ensure things like social distancing, hand sanitizing and use of facemasks, if required.

No performers and artisans are expected from outside the NWT.

Glaicar said it was always the organizers’ intention to proceed with the festival if permitted by Covid-19 and GNWT restrictions.

“It’s going to look different with Covid, but we are committed to bringing it whatever way we need to,” she said.

A draft schedule of events and an open call for musicians, artisans and volunteers will be posted April 1 on the website www.haydaysfestival.com.

Glaicar said some aspects of the festival, such as in-person music events, are still questionable, depending on possible restriction changes by the GNWT.

“We’ve got a moving target, but we are 100 per cent committed to bringing a series of events in a festival to the community no matter how that looks, no matter how we deliver it,” she said.

Glaicar said that it is probably now more important than ever to offer the Hay Days Festival to the community.

The last festival was last held in 2019.

“Last year, the management committee had wanted to take a break and had made that decision, and within a month Covid had shut things down,” said Glaicar. “So it wouldn’t have been an event last year.”

The festival began in 2010 and was not held in 2016 while under previous organizers.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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