Back to Batoche Days got underway Thursday but in a virtual way.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no festival this year at the national historic site.

However, Minister of Batoche Sherry McLennan said people are still competing in traditional Métis events after submitting video which will then be judged online.

“We’re going to be having jigging competitions across our great land,” she said. “Jigging, square dancing and fiddling competitions.”

McLennan added an artisans’ market will also be part of the virtual festival.

“We’re going to have different artists from across our land and what they’ll do is they’ll send in all their work that they do – their bead work, their leather work, sashes. They’ll actually do up a video, have a price list and be able to sell some of their wares across the country.”

The festival runs until Sunday morning.

Aside from the regular competitions, the main stage will feature the Dean Smith Band, Ovide Pilon, Phil and Dallas Boyer and Ryan Keplin on Saturday night.

This is the 50th anniversary of the Back to Batoche festival but the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan says the anniversary won’t be officially celebrated until next year.

For more information, go to the Back to Batoche Days website.

With files from Ken Landers.