Street fair’s blend of entertainment, culture, arts draws humbling turnout


Prince Albert Grand Council youth ambassadors walk down Central Avenue at street fair on June 17, 2023. — Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

After a busy weekend at street fair, Rhonda Trusty feels humbled.

“I’m very happy to see that the event put smiles on so many faces,” she said.

Trusty is the executive director of the Prince Albert Downtown Business Improvement District, which organizes the annual event.

This year featured about 170 spots for locals to visit, including booths, food trucks and businesses.

Two stages hosted entertainment, such as music, improv, magic and jugglers. There were also performances from local dance companies outside of City Hall.

Saturday’s fair included a new event, the Prairie Pop Culture Celebration, as well as the farmer’s market, a classic car show and a “witch experience” with crystals and psychic readings.

And, of course, there were tons of kids activities – which is who Trusty said the street fair is geared towards.

“They look forward to the jugglers and the princesses and the balloon lady and the face painting,” she said.

“We promote this as a free, family-friendly event, but, of course, behind the scenes, nothing is free. I just can’t thank the community and our sponsors enough,” she said.

Trusty said many vendors had interactive activities for families. This includes Power 99 and Beach Radio, which distributed approximately 11,000 tree seedlings for people to plant.

“That, in itself, adds to the atmosphere of street fair,” said Trusty.

Next year, she said, Trusty is hoping to build on the event’s partnership with the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) to add even more elements of Indigenous culture.

The PAGC cultural village included demonstrations of pow wow dancing on June 17, 2023. — Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

Several tipis lined the riverbank, with different stations set up to show cultural values. This included medicine and drumming teachings, moose hide scraping, meat smoking, beading and a fish fry.

Elmer Ballantyne emceed pow wow dancing demonstrations.

Ballantyne, a member of Montreal Lake Cree Nation, said these types of events became popular following residential schools. After the government deprecated Indigenous culture, ceremony became a crucial step to healing, he explained.

“It became a celebration the way we see it today. It’s becoming a little more commercialized, more competitive, but we still have traditional pow wows in our communities,” said Ballantyne.

Elmer Ballantyne emcees pow wow demonstrations at the cultural village for street fair on June 17, 2023. — Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

It’s also an opportunity to bridge Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, he said.

“It’s educating people. We’re not here to harm anybody, we’re not going to try to pose our culture or our tradition on them, but we’re asking for acceptance, respect, because we’re trying to do the same thing,” said Ballantyne.

“There’s other cultural events that are non-Indigenous. I try to make a point of going to see what’s going on.”

About 100 vendors were set up along Central Avenue for the fair. Booths ranged from local businesses, non-profits, food and art.

One of the vendors was Nick Sochaski, who creates metal art and sculptures out of recycled materials from mechanic shops, farmyards and the landfill.

The pieces he had on display were made of metal from shopping carts, swingsets, car parts, appliance parts and barbed wire, he described.

“A lot of people have come by and said it’s probably one of the most unique things that they’ve seen being here. I always like hearing that, it’s just nice to have something that both men and women and children are all excited about,” he said.

Nick Sochaski creates metal art out of recycled materials from mechanic shops, farmyards and the landfill. — Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

Sochaski is from Waldheim. He often participates in events in Wakaw, Saskatoon, Melfort, and has taken part in the Prince Albert exhibition, but never the street fair.

“It’s a great place to come. It’s been a great turnout,” said Sochaski.

Trusty estimated this year’s turnout exceeded previous years. In 2021, she said many visitors and vendors were still hesitant to attend public events, even though there were no COVID-19 restrictions.

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