Manitoba

Kidsfest turns 34 with music and fun for all ages at The Forks

The Winnipeg International Children's Festival is kicking off its 34th annual Kidsfest today with a schedule packed with music, circus acrobatics, art and fun for kids of all ages.

Annual event at The Forks 'now kind of just a very well-functioning 30-year-old,' says director

The Winnipeg International Children's Festival is kicking off its 34th annual Kidsfest today with a schedule packed with music, circus acrobatics, art and fun for kids of all ages. 1:21

The Winnipeg International Children's Festival is kicking off its 34th annual Kidsfest today with a schedule packed with music, circus acrobatics, art and fun for kids of all ages.

Kidsfest began Thursday morning and continues through Sunday at The Forks.
Performers and kids have fun at the Children's Festival in Winnipeg. (CBC)

This year's lineup features well-known Manitoba entertainers Fred Penner, Jake Chenier and Al Simmons, as well as Canadian and international acts like American contortionist Jonathan Burns and H'Sao, an African vocal group based in Montreal.

The annual event has come a long way since the first festival was held in 1983 at Assiniboine Park, says executive director Neal Rempel.

"It's changed in so many ways. It's been pretty much like a child that has grown into a petulant teenager and is now kind of just a very well-functioning 30-year-old," he said in an interview.

Rempel said he's been to the festival every year, including the years it was based at Kildonan Park through much of the 1980s. It moved to The Forks in 1990.
The Winnipeg International Children's Festival, begins Thursday and runs through Sunday at The Forks. (CBC)

But even as Kidsfest has evolved, Rempel said he always enjoys seeing children enjoy the performances every year.

"There's just no filter of their joy when they're enjoying themselves and laughing," he said.

"I've seen Fred Penner, for instance, get kids up on stage and they're just rocking out."

Rempel said while Kidsfest generally appeals most to children between the ages of four and 10, the variety of acts means there's something for everyone.

There's also Kidsfest After Hours, an adults-only event on Friday evening in which festival entertainers perform sets geared toward grown-ups.
The 34th annual Kidsfest, presented by the Winnipeg International Children's Festival, begins Thursday and runs through Sunday at The Forks. (CBC)