Winnipeg 2004 – Countdown: 1 day

The weather forecast has changed for the better. The forecast for rain on Thursday has been changed to mixed sun and clouds, high of 24. It will probably be cool later in the evening, but a dry day guarantees that the site will not be turned to mud on the first night. The forecast for Friday has changed to mixed sun and clouds, high 28, with a risk of showers. The mosquito situation has improved in Winnipeg. The number of mosquitos in the City entomologist’s traps has fallen drastically after very cool nights on the past weekend. The City has been fogging, but that isn’t why the bugs are gone. I live in an unfogged neighbourhood, and bugs are gone here too. The media have not reported the explanation for the drop. It hasn’t been cool enough to kill them, and there is a suggestion that many bugs have gone dormant with the cool temps and haven’t come back yet. I’d like to think that many bugs have died off and that larvicide programs have abated the new hatch, but I don’t know.

Less bugs and good weather will influence the walk up crowd and make for a better financial story for the Festival, and a better Festival.
Changing the subject, I saw a story in the Winnipeg Free Press that Festival Artistic Director Rick Fenton is resigning to pursue other projects in the music business. His tenure as AD has been largely successful in bringing good programming and supporting increased attendance. The Free Press reports, correctly, that his focus has been the mainstage show and that the daytime stages have been hit and miss. I noticed that the number and variety of daytime shows decreased under his tenure.
On the whole, he did the job well and has left because he has hit a couple of limits. I think that the financial opportunities in promotion and production may be better than what the Festival job pays. He has managed to produce some recording (eg for Ian Tyson), but generally the Festival job is full time, and the salary seems to be fixed. Also, I think that the Winnipeg festival model, a limited budget and the low expectations of the Winnipeg volunteers – the Festival seems to respond mainly to that community – have created limits to programming. Winnipeg is not producing the same quality of music as Edmonton and Calgary and is falling further behind artistically. There is no room to change that under the present management model, which markets the Festival Experience – a big block party in a campground setting.


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