Watrous - Manitou Beach Tourism’s newly minted community development officer has summer plans geared up with a wonderful series of events. Sarah McKen is a familiar face to Watrous and Manitou Beach visitors. McKen and her partner operate the popular Little Manitou Art Gallery with a staple of local artisans and a constant rotation of excellent music, art, and spoken word performances. The role of community development officer is a natural fit for her, as McKen has worked tirelessly over the years to provide one of the centres for the area’s arts community. 

“I’m really enjoying stepping into this collaborative role between the town of Watrous and the resort village of Manitou Beach,” says McKen. “I’ve been working as an administrative support person for this marketing group in the tourism and economic development area. Now, I’ve stepped into the CEO role and I’m just trying to continue the good work that’s been done.”

Of course, much of the tourism activity centres around the summer months, so it’s a busy time for McKen and her colleagues as another jam-packed season approaches. The activities kick-off near the end of June.

“June 24, 25 and 26 is our Busking Festival, and anybody who was around last year knows that this is our second time running this event. We have musicians booked who’ll be sharing their talents throughout the village.” 

Last year’s Busking Festival was largely a response to COVID lockdowns that hampered indoor performances and shut down performers opportunities to play. The Festival met with fans’ delight, so a return was a natural move. 

Canada Day celebrations are next on the docket, says McKen, with fireworks at the beach in the evening, and a pancake breakfast, pet parade, flag raising and more. 

Little Manitou Art Gallery plays into much of the summer fun as a venue frequented by musicians and performers. The outdoor stage welcomes a return by Saskatchewan folk and roots singer-songwriter Ellen Froese on July 2. 

The Salt Shaker Festival on July 8 and 9 welcomes bands from far and wide. Among them will be Manitou Beach favourites The Garrys with their unique brand of surf inspired music. That same weekend, the Spirit of Manitou Studio Trail showcases the best of regional and national visual arts in pop-ups throughout the communities. 

Next on July 23 is the ever-popular Watrous Fun Run and Show and Shine. Classic and vintage autos make their way to the town for an extravaganza of automotive delights. 

The August long weekend brings the Wonder of Words Festival, a celebration of spoken word and poetry performance, as well as the Sunday in the Sand Event hosted by Mike’s Beach Bar. 

As the summer wanes into August, McKen says a major event slated for August 2 - 12 with a culminating event on the final day. Manifest is a multimedia art installation with 10 artists on site creating works while audiences watch. The interactive event is a unique opportunity to meet with artists in the process of creating. 

The summer schedule wraps up on the first weekend of September with the Music Fest at Little Manitou Art Gallery.

It’s always a busy summer at the Beach, and this year, with new and returning events, promises to be one of the best ever.