Hundreds of Indigenous dancers, singers and drummers will be in Red Deer this weekend for the second Annual Powwow Times International Gathering.
The event starts on Friday and runs through the weekend at Westerner Park and will feature top singers and dancers from across North America.
Last year’s event was the first international powwow to be held in Red Deer in 20 years and it proved to be a big hit despite the challenges of COVID-19 health restrictions then in place, said Powwow president Patrick Mitsuing on Wednesday.
“It was a little experiment and it went well and we decided to do it a little bigger,” said Mitsuing.
“We see this year doubling in size. This is trending to be a really great event for Red Deer. We’ll have a really good representation of world-class dancers and singers.”
Organizers say this year’s event will focus on the revitalization and preservation of Indigenous languages through a conference and a trade show.
“A lot of people come for just the enjoyment of dancing and listening to the drums and the elders,” said Mitsuing. “It’s a good, fun family environment for visiting and watching some of the best Indigenous performers from across North America.
“There are a lot of learning opportunities for people who want to learn more about Indigenous culture. There’s an Indigenous market with about 30 different vendors showcasing their arts and crafts.”
Kicking off the powwow on Friday is a Youth Gathering for Indigenous Arts and Learning that already has 2,000 young people registered and will showcase some of the biggest names in Indigenous music, art, motivational speaking, dancing and drumming.
Among those entertaining at the youth gathering is Juno Award-winning artist Fawn Wood, R&B singer Lovina Tootoosis, the Magoo Crew and hip-hop artist Supaman. There will also be teen boys fancy dances, round and hoop dances, powwow demonstrations and workshops on the Cree and Blackfoot languages, tipi setting up, bannock making and even skateboarding.
The public are welcome to attend with the Drum Roll Call going at 6:45 p.m. followed by the Grand Entry Powwow at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Saturday’s activities are led by a Drum Roll Call at 12:45 p.m. followed by a Grand Entry of youth and golden age participants at 1 p.m. The rest of the day is filled with singing and dancing competitions. At 6:45 p.m. another Drum Roll Call precedes the Grand Entry of those participating in adult categories. An evening of activities including chicken dances and intertribal singing continue until 11:30 p.m.
On Sunday, participants in all categories make a Grand Entry at 1 p.m. and the afternoon is filled with the finals for the many different competitions along with performances by Giselle ManyHorses and Peter Notsowhite. Competition winners will be announced at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available at the Peavey Mart Centrium box office. The cost is $10 a day or $25 for a three-day pass. A $20 three-day pass is available to those registering for the Youth Gathering. Children 0 to 6 years old and adults 55 and over get in free. For more information go to powwowtimes.ca