You don’t often consider Saskatoon, Saskatchewan a holiday destination but this city has a lot going for it. Not only does it have a very strong emphasis on arts, it has festivals, attractions, shopping, parks, and some great architecture. The city was first settled about 130 years ago and as of 2014, has a population of between 250,000 and 300,000. Even though Saskatoon is a large city, it is spread out instead of going up so you don’t have large skyscrapers ruining its historic beauty. There is such a wonderful mix of historic and modern in this prairie city.
I grew up in Saskatoon so of course I have some fond, biased memories. In the half dozen times I have gone back for a visit over the years, those memories haven’t been ruined with my older, more jaded eyes. A few years ago I went back and attended the Folkfest which I loved as a child. Not only did my memories of the Folkfest hold up but I found it even more fun as an adult. Even one who has done a lot of travelling. This year was the first time I attended the Fringe Festival. The festival is smaller than some I have attended in Vancouver, but it was a great set-up and had quite a bit to offer.
The Western Development Museum
I have to admit that as a child this was one of my favourite places to visit. I have always loved history and this museum has an indoor 1910 Boomtown street. Seriously with their winters you have to have attractions indoors. The street is complete with various shops, carts and even homes completely set-up as they would have been in that time. The dentist’s office still sticks in my head after all of these years. In all of my travels this museum still has me in awe. I have not seen another Boomtown museum quite like this one.
There is also a section in this giant building for different vehicles throughout history, including tractors and farming machinery. It’s not normally my thing but it is still impressive to see.
Held every summer in August, the Saskatoon Folkfest is a cultural joy. Using all types of buildings all over the city, you visit a country’s pavilion where you experience their food, music, dance, clothing, beverages, art & language. Their culture and people. I suggest getting the three-day passport. It allows you unlimited access to all of the pavilions for the entire three days. As well as the Folkfest busses. You can enjoy the different beers, etc from each country without worrying about driving.
PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival
Another festival that is held every summer is the Saskatoon PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival located on Broadway Avenue. There are free street performances as well as the paid ones in various venues. You can also find locally made products and art sold by vendors set up on the street. There are even food stalls and food trucks. Broadway Avenue is shut down for the duration of the festival but the shops and restaurants are still open for you to enjoy.
The only point of criticism I had about this festival was the food prices. Around $10.00 for a specialty juice from a food truck. I’ll stick with The Juice Truck here in Vancouver for half that price thank you very much. I did eat perogies from the Perogie Pirates truck though and those prices were very reasonable. I think they were somewhere around $5.00. The perogies tasted great and the service was very friendly and fast.
As I said before there are a lot of things to see and do in Saskatoon. Besides the above items there is also beautiful historical architecture all over the east side as well as along the river on the west side. Don’t forget the Mendel Art Gallery (soon The Art Gallery of Saskatchewan), Midtown Plaza shopping centre in downtown, 8th Street restaurants and shopping, The Ex (carnival with rides), the Bez (Delta Bessborough Hotel), concerts, theatre performances, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Blades WHL hockey team, Saskatchewan International Raceway and Auto Clearing Motor Speedway to name a few. If you are heading to the prairies or thinking of just driving through cause there is nothing there, please stop and take a look. It will definitely surprise you.
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