Date(s) - June 01
The landscape of southwest Manitoba conveys a grand sense of space. Sandy, rolling hills are covered with mixed grasses and punctuated with spruce tree clusters. The sky has a vast, boundless scope that is not seen in cities. Herds of wapiti – absent for decades – once again move slowly across the plains. The typical soundscape involves softer, subtler noises: a high, wavering whistle of a Harris’s sparrow, the buzz of a bumblebee, the sound of prairie wind rushing through tall grass. On the first weekend of June, however, you might also hear a banjo melody drifting across the plains.
At the annual Prairie Wind Music Fest, one of the stages is built from hay wagons. This do-it-yourself style embodies the type of experience attendees can expect: grassroots and unpretentious. The festival – held in the 400-member community of Cypress River – is a three-day celebration of music and community. In its seventh year, the June festival offers up a selection of bluegrass, country, rock and jazz, with many artists fusing the lines of traditional genres. During the gathering, the fiddles and guitars inevitably get a bit frenetic, but it’s not just the music that hits high notes.
Small Scale, Big Fun
The big benefit of a small festival is that it offers attendees a digestible, more intimate experience. This is one of the differentiating factors of the Prairie Wind Music Festival: the crowd will likely not surpass 1,000 people. Festival-goers come from various regions of southern Manitoba for the music and the cozy, jovial atmosphere.
Friday night is officially dubbed “Family Fun Night.” The young ones – and the young-at-heart – can play bubble soccer, participate in drumming workshops, jump on a bouncy castle or simply roast marshmallows around a campfire. Early in the evening, the stage will feature local “tweeners,” up and coming artists with a variety of skills. (Last year, a young man juggled swords.)
Attendees are welcome to bring food, but meals will also be available at food trucks, which will come all the way from Brandon and Winnipeg. Menu items will include such favourites as schnitzel, pulled pork, mac ‘n’ cheese, lemonade and other comfort foods. Additional crowd-pleasing culinary options include an ice cream truck and a Sunday morning pancake breakfast.
One of the best things about the festival experience is the price tag. A weekend pass for an adult is $40, and a camping spot for the entire weekend is $10. Affordable enough to fill up on fun, without emptying the bank.
The 2018 Prairie Wind Music Fest features an eclectic roster.
Dr. Hotbottom & The Soul Prescription
Super Duty Tough Work
Spencer Myers & Nick Wytinck
The New Customs
The Reverend Rambler
Connection to The Great Trail
The local section of The Great Trail is known as the Victoria Millennium Trail (14 kilometres). Starting at the border of Spruce Woods Provincial Park, it runs through the town of Cypress River along Ducker Street and eventually becomes the Lorne Municipality Trail. Visitors should also check out the Cypress River Wetland Discovery Trail. No matter where you roam, however, you’re guaranteed access to some of that inimitable Manitoba spaciousness.
Prairie Wind Music Fest
June 1-3, 2018
Cypress River, Manitoba