As a musician, in the summertime I play at music festivals — man, if only then could be now already.
It usually all goes down outside. Usually. If it’s Washington state we’re talking about, even if it’s sunny and beautiful, everything will be indoors anyway. If it’s not raining at the moment in Washington state, then it will surely rain in the next, and you haven’t seen sheepish until you’ve met someone who let their $20,000 marimba get wet.
Everywhere else, though, the outdoor thing is a crucial part of the draw. People like to hang out in lawn chairs inside a perimeter of sunflower shells and spit cherry pits at pan-handling squirrels. Getting up every once in a while to wait around in a lineup for perogies, sun shining, music playing, a little sunscreen here, a little bug spray there. Just think of it, you well-wintered people, it can’t be that much longer now.
But on a summer festival weekend, if it rains just a little bit, if the sky even looks ever so slightly on the grey side of blue … well, backstage, festival organizers can quickly become distraught. A rainy weekend can sink a young festival beyond redemption, whisking the broken-hearted young director off to a plan B career in fiscal relations.
Even old, grizzled events with 40 summers or more behind them can suffer bitterly if the audience is reduced to diehards in garbage bag rainwear. Everything was set to be magical. The uncaring weather, however, seems to soak people to their baddest bones. It can start folks talking about how much fun moving the firework display indoors would be.
So how is it that Brandon is home to a festival that manages to be well run and well attended, year after year, yet seems purposefully scheduled to include unpleasant weather?
The directors might be humble and say, well, everything mostly happens inside, anyway.
They could also admit that the weather is almost sure to be miserable — even the best weather in the middle of January in Manitoba has got nothing on July. Since nobody’s expecting to sit in a lawn chair and soak in the rays, nobody starts the mob chanting "Refund! Refund!" on behalf of the spiteful weather gods.
It’s the Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival — it says so everywhere, they’ve even included snowflakes all over the website so you can anticipate precipitation, if not jean cutoffs and flip-flops. Like Washington state, Manitoba’s winter weather is predictably harsh this time of year.
What kind of weather would it actually take to keep all these cabin-fevered people from eating the Queen Babushka’s borscht or a piping-hot Brazilian black bean stew or overdoing it with the English Curly Wurly candy bars on this one weekend a winter? Heaters on, music playing, a little fig liquor here, a little lederhosen there. We’re a beacon of resilience out here.
Ten pavilions will strategically be placed around the city this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday and Friday, they will open at 6 p.m., and Saturday at 1 p.m. Admission, as always, is free.
» Natalie Bohrn is a local university student. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org