Richmond Maritime Festival sets sail for online celebration

The annual Richmond Maritime Festival is returning with its week-long celebrations, except this year all the events will be online because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Richmond Maritime Festival has been showcasing the cultural and maritime heritage of Steveston for 17 years.

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The City of Richmond partners with the Richmond Arts Coalition (RAC) and the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site Society each year to showcase the cultural and maritime heritage of Steveston.

According to the staff report from the director of arts, culture and heritage services in April, the city approved a budget of $28,000 for the festival this year.

In addition, a grant of $65,000 was given to the Richmond Arts Coalition from the Department of Canadian Heritage for the festival.

This year, the festival will kick off on Friday, Aug. 28 with a welcome from the mayor and performances by a capella trio Cannery Mermaids, Mad Jazz and The Seabillys.

Other events include dances, storytelling and hands-on activities throughout the week.

“As with every year, we look forward to celebrating Richmond’s strong maritime heritage,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

“And though normally we would gather at Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, we look forward to gathering in a different way and enjoying incredible performances and the spirit of the Richmond Maritime Festival from our own homes.”

While the festival was originally arranged to be held outdoors, the city decided to host the festival online instead due to pandemic restrictions.

Kim Decker, city spokesperson, said at the time a revised city event program was presented to council, programs would be “planned and produced in accordance with provincial health authority guidelines” as they moved forward.

“At that time, it was not known whether or not in-person events would be feasible in late summer,” said Decker.

“As summer approached and the Provincial Health Authority ban on events with more than 50 people remained in place, the organizers of the Richmond Maritime Festival … agreed that planning any on-site activations could have the potential to draw more than 50 people.”

With festivities being held online, the city has “no doubt” many people are adjusting to the idea of online celebrations and events.

Clay Adams, city spokesperson, told the Richmond News the city saw an increase of participation in online events.

The city, said Adams, saw more than 22,000 people view this year’s online version of Doors Open in comparison to last year’s 16,000 count in person.

“During the period of Doors Open, we saw an increase in followers to the City's Facebook and Instagram sites - the two social media channels where the program was focused,” said Adams.

The Richmond Maritime Festival will take place from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7.

For more details on the event, visit RichmondMaritimeFestival.ca

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