The Winnipeg Folk Festival gets underway at Birds Hill Provincial Park Thursday night, and organizers have been preparing for months.

"Back in March, we recruited 15 adult newcomers from the permanent resident language training program at Red River College,” said Kathy Kerr, newcomer coordinator for the Folk Fest.

Those newcomers - immigrants and refugees - participated in a scavenger hunt last week to learn more about the park's geography and their volunteer duties.

It's to help the new Canadians feel welcome in the country, while gaining work experience and improving their English skills.

"I'm interested in Canadian culture, how people organize these festivals, so I figured why not,” said Svetlana Gharagyozyan, who is volunteering at the fest.

She came here from Armenia about a year ago.

She'll spend part of Folk Fest making food for visitors, and throughout the weekend she'll have the chance to experience a festival that's been going on for more than 40 years - a part of our province's history.

The Folk Fest Newcomer Program started six years ago.

Ashleigh Gray just learned of the program and says it’s a welcome addition to a decades-old tradition.

Folk Fest wraps up Sunday night with Grammy-winning band Wilco taking the main stage at 8:40 p.m.