Sixteen Manitoban acts will represent their province at a Whoop & Hollar Folk Festival virtual showcase during the 2021 Folk Alliance International Conference.

A local music festival and a roster of local musicians are representing Portage la Prairie and Manitoba on the international stage next week. On Feb. 25, 16 acts from the Portage community and across the province will perform their original works at Folk Unlocked, the 2021 edition of the world-renowned Folk Alliance International Conference (FAI). Each artist will play a 15-minute set during a four-hour presenter showcase.

“We’re bringing a little taste of Manitoba and its culture to a wide audience of music lovers and potential talent buyers in Canada, the US, Australia, Europe, and beyond,” says Whoop & Hollar artistic director Josh Wright. “Our province does folk, roots, country, and indie really well and we have, arguably, one of the highest numbers of musicians per capita in the country. So, we thought why not take advantage of the opportunity to share that and try out a virtual showcase during this online era.”

Featured Portage talent includes Lucien Spence, Ed & Rhea Goertzen, Fireball Paul Shepherd, Manon and Chris Messytone. Performances will be live-streamed from 7-11 p.m. CT, Feb. 25 on the Whoop & Hollar Folk Festival Facebook ( page and YouTube channel. The full lineup will be posted on the Festival’s website and social media.

Whoop & Hollar Folk Festival is organizing and hosting the inaugural “Spirit of Manitoba Showcase” on the final evening of the FAI conference, which has remained the world’s largest annual gathering of the folk music industry since 1989.

At FAI, thousands of artists, managers, producers, promoters, and fans from across the globe converge to attend five days of concerts, programming, networking, and professional development.

Originally slated to be held in Kansas City, Missouri, this year’s conference is going entirely virtual Feb. 22-26. As a result, FAI will be able to continue assisting the music industry, especially through the challenges of the pandemic, as well as become more accessible to those who wouldn’t normally get the chance to go.

Although it’s the first time Whoop & Hollar will present at the conference, the festival has been a FAI member for three consecutive years and its organizers have travelled to Kansas City, Montreal, and New Orleans to expand their horizons and be ambassadors for their music scene.

In addition to conference delegates, the Spirit of Manitoba Showcase at Folk Unlocked will be free and accessible for the public to watch.