In 2022, yet another agency that welcomed the return of traffic to its streets and shores was the Watrous - Manitou Beach Marketing Group. The organization is responsible for many of the events and attractions that have people flocking to the Land of the Healing Waters. When events of the past few years curtailed the visits, 2022 saw the region’s tourism bounce back strong.
For Sarah McKen, it was the first year in her new position as community development officer. Sarah is well-grounded in the tourist offerings of the region, and she brings her talent and enthusiasm for the region to her position.
“2022 was another busy year,” McKen offered. “Watrous and Manitou Beach work very well together. Really there’s something going on every weekend, once we hit the May long. The highlights are annual events, so you can also look forward to them in 2023.”
Among those highlights was the Busking Festival. Started in the height of the pandemic as an outdoor musical offering that provided a safe way for performers and arts lovers to gather, it’s become a summertime staple on and around the beach. This year saw their first ever Pride Tea Party.
Another key event that attracts music lovers throughout the province is the Salt Shaker. Held at Manitou Beach’s acclaimed Danceland, the Shaker wraps up bands and performers from different genres into an eclectic and fun-filled weekend.
“The Watrous Fun Run had the main street of Watrous stocked with amazing vehicles with a lot of people coming to see. It’s an iconic event here and Watrous has been participating for years. There’s quite a community of volunteers, along with the local businesses who sponsor it.”
This year saw one of the largest offerings ever, with visitors attending from as far away as Mexico.
For poetry and spoken word performance aficionados, the Wonder of Words takes place on the long weekend. Acclaimed writers such as award winner David Carpenter were among the luminaries at this year’s edition, held at the Little Manitou Art Gallery. Some events rotate on a biannual basis, McKen notes, so this year sculptors displayed their works and conducted workshops at an event called Manifest. Next year, Manifest makes way for the return of the Chainsaw Carving Festival in Early August. Along with the Rock and Rock Weekend and regular events held at Danceland, the summer wraps up with the traditional September long weekend gathering at Little Manitou Art Gallery for MusicFest. McKen agrees that Manitou Beach and neighbouring Watrous have become a mecca for music, from rock to jazz to country or roots/folk
As winter rolls around, activity cools down somewhat, but there’s still plenty for visitors to enjoy, McKen acknowledges. Cross country ski trails are open, and a soak in the renowned spa with its mineral water makes for a great combination.
The Watrous - Manitou Marketing Group wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, with the hopes to see you in the communities for the fun and excitement 2023 will bring.