Ever heard of the Magnificient River Rats Festival? If you haven't, you don't know what you're missing.
The two-day music festival has been held on the banks of the Athabasca River, June 30-July 1 every year since 1997. Ida Edwards, festival president, has been involved for the past seven years. Cockney instantly picked up on Edwards' passion for music (she plays the piano) and local arts and culture scene when he met her at the Nancy Appleby Theatre.
Next year is the festival's 25th anniversary. The even was cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Edwards is cautiously optimistic the festival will be able to extend a warm invitation for 2021.
"We're looking forward to normalcy," she says. "It's always exciting to hear new music. Try something new and come hear artists you haven't heard before. You'll be pleasantly surprised."
The festival is known for being family friendly. It features a variety of musical genres from emerging and established musicians. Last year, the festival headliners were rockers Helix and Juno Award-winning Aboriginal artist Susan Aglukark.
Of course, the highlight of the weekend is the music and lots of dancing under big skies. The whole town gets in on the festival vibe, with pancake breakfasts, historic walking tours and good old-fashioned goofy fun like a giant Jenga face-painting and a small-town parade (they're always the best, aren't they?).