By Katherine Gilks, Outreach Coordinator
As the days get longer, the air gets warmer, and the birds sing louder, it is once again Heritage Fairs season!
In the spirit of spring renewal, Heritage Saskatchewan is proud to launch our new website dedicated to the Heritage Fairs and High School Heritage Challenge: https://heritagefairssk.ca/. This new site will host our Virtual Heritage Fair and High School Heritage Challenge, as well as being the go-to location for information about our in-person Heritage Fairs and the program in general. For the moment, most of the content is the same as what was on our general website; I will be editing the content as the year progresses.
Speaking of in-person Heritage Fairs, we are once again hosting the Provincial Heritage Fair at Government House! It will be on Wednesday, June 14. Like last year, it will be a one-day event at one location, but we aim to expand back to a two-day event in the future. Students will have the opportunity to take part in various activities at Government House as well as present their projects.
The Moose Jaw Regional Heritage Fair is back on May 3, 2023! After a four-year hiatus, we are excited to welcome students back to the MJ Western Development Museum. For all of the students involved, this will be a new experience. Eleven schools from the Moose Jaw and Swift Current environs will take part.
Unfortunately, the Regional Fairs in the rest of the province remain on hiatus for another year; the Saskatoon and Regina Regional Heritage Fairs will return in 2024! In the meantime, we have lots of schools registered to take part in the Virtual Heritage Fair and we look forward to seeing all of the projects.
2023 is the first year that we will have both in-person and virtual fairs that will culminate in our Provincial Heritage Fair. This will give us an idea of how to balance our program for the future as we continue to host the Virtual Heritage Fair alongside our in-person Regional Fairs. The Virtual Fair, while province-wide, will also be a “regional-level” event, with the Top Projects being selected to attend the Provincial Fair along with the Top Projects from each Regional Fair.
Not to be left out, our High School Heritage Challenge is running for the second year concurrently with the Virtual Heritage Fair! Once again, students are invited to submit projects and up to three winners will receive an education bursary of $1000 (per project). This is an entirely online contest.
The deadline to submit projects for the Virtual Heritage Fair and the High School Heritage Challenge is Monday, April 24! As I write this, that is just under a month away, so there is still time for students to decide to enter either contest, regardless of whether their school is participating.
The Virtual Heritage Fair (grades 4-8) and High School Heritage Challenge (grades 9-12) are open to all students in Saskatchewan. It does not matter what community you are from, what school you go to, or if you are participating in person as well. All that matters is that you have a passion for a topic relating to Canada and you want to research and present a project about it!
This year has already been special for me. Normally, Heritage Saskatchewan is only involved in the Heritage Fairs program at the Regional Fairs and up. As I had never done Heritage Fairs as a student, I had not had the opportunity to participate at the school level. Because the Covid-19 Pandemic prevented us from gathering for several years, I want to reach out to teachers and students in person, so I am attending school fairs in various communities across the province in the months of March and April. Already, I have been able to attend three of these events. It has been a great pleasure to meet the students and learn from them. It has also been wonderful to connect with teachers, some of whom are relatively new to the program, while others have been long-time participants. Thank you all for welcoming me to your schools and communities!
For most of the students, the in-person Heritage Fairs are a new experience. The students who were in grade 4 in 2019 – the last year that the Heritage Fairs program ran “normally” – are now in grade 8. While many students were able to present in their classes last year, this has been the first time that most have been able to present to other students at their schools and to adults from the community. This is the first year that they have been able to present projects unmasked and hand out treats or colouring sheets.
Going to the school fairs also gives me the opportunity to see a wider variety of projects. There are a lot of good projects that do not make it to the Regional Fairs. There are a lot of unique or rarer topics that I do not get to see normally. Students are proud of their work and I am happy that they are able to share it with me. I look forward to seeing many of them again in the Virtual Fair and at the Regional Fair!