The late 1960s were a ripe period for Canadian arts and culture. A heightened sense of nationalism after the centennial along with Montreal hosting the World Expo in 1967 put Canadian pride on the map, creating traction for a space that could showcase the country’s artistic labour. Regina Folk Festival has roots in this era, beginning on the Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan in 1969 as a celebration of Canadian folk music, hosted by the Regina Guild of Folk Music (later the Regina Guild of Folk Arts, now the Regina Folk Festival Inc.) in the interest of fostering the city's burgeoning folk community.
The festival eventually moved outdoors and off campus grounds, settling at Victoria Park in 1985, where the event has taken place yearly ever since (save for a 1994 cancellation), now taking place over a weekend in August. In recent years, artists like Serena Ryder, Sam Roberts Band, Vance Joy, Blue Rodeo and the Sheepdogs have all performed. The fest has a strong history of progressivism. Folk and children’s singer-songwriter Heather Bishop remembers receiving standing ovation at Regina Folk Festival after performing her songs with pertinent LGTBQ lyrics, something she noted was risky in 1976. Historically open to voices from the under-represented, festivalgoers can always expect to enjoy stalwart artists and discover emerging talent in equal measure.
Throughout the 1970 and ’80s, the Guild promoted coffeehouses outside of festival hours, which snowballed into its own concert series that has featured acts including the New Pornographers and Whitehorse. In 2016, festival organizers unveiled Winterruption, a hearty salve to the winter blues featuring concerts and events in both Regina and Saskatoon, held in late January. Past Winterruption performers include Said the Whale, Hawksley Workman and Terra Lightfoot.