Skip to content

WTF Festival returns to Sault in June

Inaugural 2018 WTF Festival a success, second annual event runs June 6 to 8
20190509-Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus photo supplied
Canadian Comedy Award winners Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus, hosts of the WTF Night of Hilarity and Awe variety show. Photo supplied.

The second annual WTF Festival will go ahead June 6 to 8 in Sault Ste. Marie, but it won’t be as large as last year’s inaugural festival due to delays in provincial government funding for such events.

“That’s a big part of it. The government still has not released funding for Celebrate Ontario grants for this year,” said Alana Kenopic, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie manager of sports tourism and special events.

“They were late because of elections and then the application intake process completed in January, but they still haven’t announced any funding yet, and that’s our primary source of funding,” Kenopic told SooToday.

Undaunted, Kenopic said the show will go on (only smaller than last year’s festival).

“We decided to scale the festival down. It’ll be smaller this year given the circumstances, but we still wanted to do something.”

Kenopic said last year’s inaugural WTF Festival won the best new festival of the year in a category of $100,000 to $250,000 by Festivals and Events Ontario.

Tourism SSM officials and WTF Festival organizers say money spent on such festivals is made back through visitor spending.

“We had the murder mystery on the tour train (Murder on the Agawa Express) last year, which was a large attractor for out of town visitation, and our goal is to bring that back again next year, and also a major headliner. We just had to mitigate the (financial) risk this year,” Kenopic said.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Kenopic said of this year’s upcoming festival.

“The lineup we have is great. They’re very excited to be coming here. They’re Canadian Comedy Award winners and if you look at their bios, they’re really good talent. The variety show will be amazing and I think the Grease night  will be a ton of fun.”

A Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC) press release, issued Thursday, follows:  

This year, you can go With The Family. The WTF Festival is returning to Sault Ste. Marie. Taking place June 6 to 8, the 2019 event features a number of family-friendly entertainment, including a star-studded variety show, magic and improv workshops, and a Grease movie showing and sing-a-long.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing comedy back with the second-annual WTF Festival,” said Alana Kenopic, Manager of Sports Tourism & Special Events for the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “For this year’s event, we have a new lineup of performers and shows that the whole family can enjoy. It’s going to be a blast.”

The 2019 WTF Festival features the following events:

Thursday, June 6

  • Ryan McFarling: The Imposter is performing An Evening of Stolen Original Magic Tricks at the Water Tower Inn. Doors open at 7:45 p.m. Ryan has modeled his show after those performed by the great Houdini at the turn of the century. It’s close-up, relaxed and mind-blowing.

Friday, June 7

  • The Night of Hilarity and Awe variety show is happening at the Machine Shop. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and showtime is 8 p.m. The event is being hosted by Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram, who both won Canadian Comedy Awards in the Best Improviser category. Naomi is known for her regular role as Bobbi in the television series Mr. D, and Matt is an alumnus of the legendary Second City Comedy Theatre. The Night of Hilarity and Awe will also feature the return of David Merry, one of Canada’s premier magicians, along with Men in Tights: The Kings of Shakespearian Improvisation and Canadian Comedy Award winning stand-up Martha Chaves. The evening will close with Sean Cullen, an author, actor, singer and award-winning comedian. During the variety show, the 2019 Dave Broadfoot Award will be presented to this year’s winner by Royal Canadian Air Farce alum Don Ferguson. Guests can enjoy an all-in ticket option that includes a pre-show from local illusionist Ryan McFarling with appetizers and cocktails.

Saturday, June 8

  • Actor, author and stand-up comedian Sean Cullen is doing a Reading and Signing of his children’s books from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Machine Shop. The event will include a meet and greet with the author, question and answer session, and draws for book giveaways.
  • Stand-up comedian and magician David Merry will be teaching his workshop, Magic Tricks With Household Items, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Machine Shop.
  • The WTF Improv Workshop, presented by Men in Tights: The Kings of Shakespearian Improvisation, is taking place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Machine Shop. During the improv training session, the audience can explore and learn various performance styles from some of the best comedians in the business.
  • Magician Ryan McFarling is holding an Illusion Workshop from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Machine Shop. Following an ice-breaking baffling demonstration, open discussions will cover magic, magicians, secrecy and the golden rules of magic. Each attendee (must be eight years or older) will be taught the basics of magic and a trick or two that they can show off later to family and friends.
  • Learn to Dance the Hand Jive Workshop will take place in the Machine Shop at 6:45 p.m. before the start of Sing-A-Long Productions presents GREASE. Attendees can come on out a little early and learn all the moves they’ll need to own the dance floor during the show.
  • Sing-A-Long Productions presents Grease will cap off the festival.  Grab your leather jackets and head down to the Machine Shop for a showing and live sing-a-long of the musical comedy film Grease. The show starts at 8 p.m. Have you ever been to a film musical and had the uncontrollable urge to burst into song? The evening will begin with host comedian Sean Cullen leading a vocal warm-up. Before the show, the audience will receive a free interactive prop bag and learn appropriate heckles and accompanying actions to use throughout the movie. Just sit back and watch Danny & Sandy and the gang, while singing and dancing along to the lyrics on the screen.  It couldn’t be easier . . . or more fun! The first rule of Sing-a-long-a is: there are no rules! Fancy dress is strongly encouraged and full audience participation essential.

Space is limited for all the events. For ticket information, along with more details on the performances and workshops, please visit the WTF Festival website 




Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
Read more