Susan Kokas, president of the Wetaskiwin Arts and Music Festival Society, decided to organize the Wetaskiwin Arts and Music Festival after seeing a chasm between the age groups within the city.                                 Photo by Stu Salkeld

Susan Kokas, president of the Wetaskiwin Arts and Music Festival Society, decided to organize the Wetaskiwin Arts and Music Festival after seeing a chasm between the age groups within the city. Photo by Stu Salkeld

First annual Wetaskiwin Arts and Music Festival set for By-the-Lake Park

City of Wetaskiwin teems with eager artists of all genres

Having seen a spark missing in the community, a Wetaskiwin resident and world traveler is hoping to unleash an explosion of art and a sense of unity with the first ever Wetaskiwin Arts and Music Festival.

Susan Kokas, president of the Wetaskiwin Arts and Music Festival Society, decided to organize the festival after seeing a chasm between the age groups within the city.

In attending open mic nights Kokas noticed the older generations would come early and leave and roll their eyes when younger artists took the stage. “You know, I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think it’s right.”

“I started this because I was witnessing a lot of negativity in Wetaskiwin on social media,” said Kokas.

Not only does Kokas want the arts and music festival to strengthen awareness of the art community in Wetaskiwin but also serve as a way to begin bridging that gap between generations.

The Wetaskiwin Arts and Music Festival will take place June 24 at By-the-Lake Park; with approximately 100 local artists of all genres partaking.

Taking into account Wetaskiwin sits on Treaty 6 land — with many of the artists coming from the Maskwacis community — the festival opens with smudging ceremony 9:30 a.m.

In the four months leading up to the festival Kokas says the event’s Facebook page gained more than 400 members. “It’s snowballed. We get up to three new artists a day, and they are from all age groups and genres.”

“They needed a sense of spirit, unity, pride and inclusion. I have to be the change. I’m in the centre of that age group that connects the young and the old. We have to show the world that we (Wetaskiwin) can be metropolitan; we are a destination,” she added.

Kokas says a large part of the festival will be giving the younger generation an opportunity to see what Wetaskiwin can offer them.

In planning the festival Kokas spoke with multiple art groups around the city and discovered many of their struggles stem from a lack of participation from young artists. Without change many of the groups could continue to see declining numbers.

“Show the old folks what the young folks can do by bringing them together,” said Kokas.

With all the artists, writers, musicians, dancers and other participants congregating at the park, Kokas says her vision for the event is more of a open concept, free-form entity and less like a structured outdoor market.

“We have excellent food vendors, all local,” said Kokas.

“Plus the demonstrations. There’s martial arts, the dance, those are the arts,” she added.

When Kokas took her idea to city council, not for funding but for support, she was offered the use of the city’s transportation system, as parking at By-the-Lake can be tight.

Kokas says she noticed some events take place in the city with no annual followup, and she is hoping to change that pattern.

The city has the venues to make it happen, says Kokas, citing the new stage at Jubilee Park. “I want to see that stage used by everyone.”

Many other businesses and arts supporters have also made donations in any way they can to the inaugural festival. Kokas says with the economy many cannot afford to make cash donations, but lawn chairs, coffee, sunscreen and bug spray supplies are just a few items coming in from the community.

The official closing time of the festival is 9 p.m. but Kokas says the park’s hall will remain open for open mic and jams for those who wish to stay longer.

“I give my confidence that this is going to be epic. Wetaskiwin needs this badly,” said Kokas.

The free event will commence rain or shine.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

First annual Wetaskiwin Arts and Music Festival set for By-the-Lake Park

Just Posted

File photo
County of Wetaskiwin closing Winfield Arena for the remainder of the 2020/2021 season

County Council made their decision at the Jan.26, 2021 County Council Meeting.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
City and County of Wetaskiwin COVID-19 numbers continue to drop

Fruition of provincial restrictions coming to light as active cases decline locally.

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province still hopes to bring the hospitalization number down before relaxing restrictions. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Black Press file photo
Leduc RCMP investigate serious collision involving train

Leduc RCMP were called to a collision between a train and truck on Centre Street in New Sarepta.

Mom’s Diner owner Wesley Langlois has joined a growing number of Alberta restaurants that are allowing sit-in dining despite public health restrictions. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Red Deer diner joins sit-down dining protest

Mom’s Diner has joined a growing list of Alberta restaurants flouting health restrictions

Young hockey players were out on Bentley Tuesday for a march to a support a return to sports. (Photo courtesy of Bobby McKinlay)
(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

In this undated image made from a video taken by the Duke of Sussex and posted on @SaveChildrenUK by the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shows the Duchess of Sussex reading the book “Duck! Rabbit!” to their son Archie who celebrates his first birthday on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The Canadian Paediatric Society is reminding families that the process of raising a reader starts from birth. (Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK)
Canadian Paediatric Society says raising a reader starts from birth

CPS says literacy is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the government will make any necessary changes

People walk along a pedestrianized zone of Sainte-Catherine street in Montreal, Monday, May 18, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Newly released statistics point to a major drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Crime down in first 8 months of pandemic, but mental health calls rise: StatCan

The agency says violent crimes such as assault dropped significantly

(Photo submitted)
Central Alberta researchers recognized for studies in agricultural sciences

Jessica Sperber of Ponoka and David MacTaggart of Lacombe awarded prestigious scholarship

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Most Read