Winter Festival draws from its rich 50-year history

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Published on January 08, 2014

Scenes from Prince Albert Winter Festivals from the early ’70s are seen, as chronicled by the Daily Herald. The annual tradition started in 1964, and by the following decade had grown to the more or less the festival Prince Albert residents know today

Published on January 08, 2014

Scenes from Prince Albert Winter Festivals from the early ’70s are seen, as chronicled by the Daily Herald. The annual tradition started in 1964, and by the following decade had grown to the more or less the festival Prince Albert residents know today

Published on January 08, 2014

Scenes from Prince Albert Winter Festivals from the early ’70s are seen, as chronicled by the Daily Herald. The annual tradition started in 1964, and by the following decade had grown to the more or less the festival Prince Albert residents know today

Published on January 08, 2014

Scenes from Prince Albert Winter Festivals from the early ’70s are seen, as chronicled by the Daily Herald. The annual tradition started in 1964, and by the following decade had grown to the more or less the festival Prince Albert residents know today

Published on January 08, 2014

Scenes from Prince Albert Winter Festivals from the early ’70s are seen, as chronicled by the Daily Herald. The annual tradition started in 1964, and by the following decade had grown to the more or less the festival Prince Albert residents know today

Set to begin on Feb. 10, the one-month countdown to the Prince Albert Winter Festival begins this week as organizers finalize plans for the 50th annual event.

 

Although he notes that this year’s plans “aren’t put to bed yet,” co-ordinator Darrell Prokopie said that the focus will be recognizing the annual event’s rich history.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of new things, necessarily, this year -- hopefully some improved things,” he summarized.

This year’s event will take place on the riverfront from Feb. 9 to Feb. 23 and will include all of the events people have come to expect, Prokopie said.

While recent years have seen the Winter Festival go through “ebbs and flows,” with “some successful seasons and some not-so-successful seasons,” Prokopie said that organizers are gearing up to make this year’s festival a special one.

“I think it’s a real kudos to the community that we’ve been able to sustain an event like this for 50 years,” Prokopie said.

“The Winter Festival is still know as one of the largest and longest-running winter festivals in Western Canada, and that’s certainly a recognition we can hang our hat on.

“We want to do a lot of remembering, a lot of acknowledging and perhaps some honouring of people and things that contributed to the Winter Festival.”

Started in 1964 to as Prokopie put it "break up the winter doldrums,” by its 10th anniversary in 1974 the event had grown to a festival comparable to the one we know today.

King Trapper events, dog sled racing, dancing and singing have always been part of the annual event’s festivities, and this year’s will pay special attention to such traditions, Prokopie said.

“The whole event is based on tradition and heritage,” he said. “Those are traditions in this neck of the woods and a way of life.”

In addition to the typical King Trapper events centred on wood chopping, snowshoe racing and other such activities, participants of the past will be given recognition at next month’s event, Prokopie said.

“Age has gotten to a lot of them, but we’d like to acknowledge them in some way and we’re working toward a way of doing that,” he summarized.

The same applies to the Country North Show, with performers from its full 50-year history performing, coming from as far away as the United States to attend the event.

There are also lots of community leaders who have served as Mr. and Ms. Winter Festival during past events -- individuals who will also receive special recognition at this year’s event.

I think it’s a real kudos to the community that we’ve been able to sustain an event like this for 50 years. Darrell Prokopie

Another special treat at this year’s festival will be a larger than usual outdoor camping setup by Scouts, double or triple the size of last year’s, Prokopie said.

“They’ve enjoyed it, they’ve talked about it openly within the scout movement and this year we have scouts coming in from all over the province to set up camp,” he said.

Another treat will be a much larger dog pull than in previous years, thanks to the support of a volunteer keen on growing the event to its past glory.

The dog pull has members of the community bring their dogs in to compete against others at pulling weights on a sleigh.

Although this year’s festival is set to pull from its 50-year history, its present will put it in a unique position to draw more people in than usual, with both the Winter Games and Canadian Sled Dog Challenge also taking place in Prince Albert at the same time.

With more people in the city than usual, Prokopie said that organizers are hoping to see a comparable jump in attendance at the festival’s many events.

While these other events draw more people into the area, they’ve also drawn from the local pool of volunteers -- a group that Prokopie said needs to grow significantly in order to make good on organizers’ ambitious plans.

Volunteers are still needed in almost every area, though Prokopie notes that the possibilities are endless. If someone wants to start up and chair a brand new event at this year’s festival, they can do so.

Those interested in helping out can call Prokopie at 306-961-1946, or contact him by email at info@pawinterfestival.com.

People can also drop in at organizers’ meetings at the Margo Fournier Centre, which take place every Tuesday and Thursday beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Winter Festival buttons, which serve as tickets to all Winter Festival events (although some events require additional admission cost), will be available for sale at $3 each within the next week. Buttons will be available at many retail outlets throughout the city.

The Daily Herald will follow this story as it progresses, and will print a full schedule of events as soon as one is made available. 

Organizations: Canadian Sled Dog Challenge, Margo Fournier Centre

Geographic location: Western Canada, United States, Prince Albert

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  • Rod Young
    January 09, 2014 - 09:24

    Always nice to read a well written article which promotes local events... Hope your all wintering well...