Prince Albert Winter Festival starts on Monday

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Starting with a glance at its rich history, the 50th Annual Prince Albert Winter Festival kicks off on Monday with a unique Mr. and Mrs. Winter Festival event.

 

A Mr. and Mrs. Winter Festival have been crowned with fur hats every year since 1977 -- but not this winter.

“This year we’re going to acknowledge and honour all of the past winners from the previous years,” festival co-ordinator Darrell Prokopie explained.

Although some of the Winter Festival ambassadors have passed away since 1977, Prokopie anticipates seeing at least 30 fur hat-wearing seniors gallivanting around the city between Feb. 13 and Feb. 23, during which the crux of the festival will take place.

These Mr. and Mrs. Winter Festivals of the past will join the balance of festival enthusiasts in enjoying what is anticipated to be one of the best festivals yet.

As always, a scattering of small and large events will be spread over 10 days, culminating in the festival’s large outdoor festival, from the evening of Friday, Feb. 21, to late afternoon on Sunday, Feb. 23.

“The outdoor site will still be based on the riverbank but the dog races -- at this point in time -- we are planning for the river,” Prokopie said, noting that previous years saw the dog sled races take place elsewhere.

“We have been doing some drilling and pulling of ice cores to check the safety factor, and as it looked last Saturday, we’re good to go.

“So, we have all the confidence in the world that we’ll be running the dog races on the ice this year.”

This year’s outdoor component will be punctuated by even more family-friendly events than Winter Festival goers have seen in recent years, Prokopie said.

Fans of canines will be well done by over the weekend, he added.

“We’re expecting a huge turnout this year,” he said of the dogsled component. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have upward of 25 to 30 10-dog teams.”

It’s not only trained sled dogs that can participate, but family pets as well, he said, noting that the popular dog pulls will also take place, during which dogs pull weighted sleighs.

Starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, family pets will compete against one another, during which anyone interested in participating is encouraged to bring in their dogs.

“Every dog is going to leave with some prize this year,” Prokopie said. “We’re actually looking forward to quite the dog pull this year.”

An outdoor children’s carnival and other events will take place over the weekend.

All Prince Albert Winter Festival events require the purchase of a $3 Winter Festival button for admission, which can be picked up at various businesses throughout the city. Most indoor events also require the purchase of a ticket, which are available beforehand at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre, or at the door if there are any left. With the 10 days’ worth of events taking place during both the Canadian Challenge International Sled Dog Race and the Saskatchewan Winter Games, this year’s festival should be bustling, Prokopie concluded.

“They’ve caused us a lot of grief to this point in terms of hotel rooms and volunteers, so we hope that there’ll be some positive spinoff from the games,” he said, noting that about 5,000 visitors are expected for the Winter Games alone.

On that front, he notes that volunteers are still required. For more information about volunteerism or any of the events, Prokopie can be contacted at 306-961-1946, and emails can be sent to info@pawinterfestival.com.

 

Moose Jaw: Schedule of events (for the Saturday extra Page)

 

Mr. and Mrs. Winter Festival Crowning

Monday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.

The Seniors Heritage Centre will play host to the annual crowning of Mr. and Mrs. Winter Festival -- only, this year’s event will have a twist.

Drawing from a cache of Mr. and Mrs. Winter Festivals that dates back to 1977, past ambassadors will be honoured during this annual tea and dainty event. 

 

Voices of the North

Thursday, Feb. 13 to Saturday, Feb. 15.

Musicians from throughout Northern Saskatchewan will descend on Prince Albert to share their musical talents over a handful of events between Feb. 13 and Feb. 15.

All events will take place at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre.

Within this timeframe, a Northern Spirits Showcase will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15 -- a show that both features and is organized by young people from around the north.

The times are as follows;

• Thursday, Feb. 13, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

• Friday, Feb. 14, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

• Friday, Feb. 14, from 10 p.m. to 12 p.m.

• Saturday, Feb. 15, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (Northern Spirits Showcase)

• Saturday, Feb. 15, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

• Saturday, Feb. 15, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. (cabaret)

 

Country Gospel Show

Sunday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 .m.

The annual Country Gospel Show shifts away from its previously established brunch setup to become an evening show at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre’s main stage.

"The message brings hope to people," Rev. Rick Martin told the Daily Herald after his 2012 performance at the annual gospel show. "It's a vehicle to bring God's word. Music really breaks down barriers."

 

Harmonica and Accordion Demonstration

Monday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.)

Another annual staple, the Harmonica and Accordion Demonstration will take place on Sunday. Feb. 17, at the ANAVETS building on 11th Street West.

If you’ve ever been a fan of the Country North Show, you’ve got to come and see this. Barry Mihilewicz

This event sells out every year, so those interested in showing up are encouraged to stop by early.

 

North Saskatchewan Red River Jigging Competition

Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.)

This annual event encourages anyone interested in trying their hand at the art of jigging to do so.

The ANAVETS building on 11th Street West is expected to be packed for this event, as always.

 

Country North Show

Wednesday, Feb. 19, to Sunday, Feb. 23

“This particular event will be a high point amongst high points, in my opinion,” key organizer Barry Mihilewicz said of the annual Country North Show.

“If you’ve ever been a fan of the Country North Show, you’ve got to come and see this.”

The annual show has been going on since 1972, and organizers are plunging into its history to invite special guests from years past, including at least one performer from its 1972 debut (read the Daily Herald prior to the event for more on this).

One special guest who should raise eyebrows is Brian Sklar, who’s flying in from Nashville to attend the event, performing twice -- once at the Saturday night show, and a second time at Sunday’s extra show, which will feature performers from the past.

Other notables from the five days include Heidi Munro and Misdeal, Tim Toutant and Donny Parenteau.

“That is going to be awesome,” Mihilewicz concluded. “This whole show is going to be bloody awesome.”

The times are as follows, with all events held at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre’s main stage;

• Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

• Thursday, Feb. 20, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and a cabaret from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. featuring Heidi Munro and Misdeal

• Friday, Feb. 21, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and a cabaret from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. featuring Tim Toutant.

• Saturday, Feb. 22, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and a cabaret from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. featuring Donny Parenteau and Brian Sklar.

• Sunday, Feb. 23, from 7 p.m. until late -- a special show drawing from the Country North Show’s history, featuring Brian Sklar.

 

Outdoor festival

Friday, Feb. 21 to Sunday, Feb. 23

The Prince Albert Winter Festival’s heart is its outdoor festival, Prokopie said, noting that this year’s outdoor component will be held entirely on the riverbank

The outdoor component to the Winter Festival will begin on Friday night, during which Scouts from across the province will hold their annual parade and tree burning on the riverfront, from 6 p.m.to 11 p.m.

Fireworks will also be on display during this time, opening up the weekend to family-friendly activities from about 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Dog sled races will be held on the North Saskatchewan River, and is anticipated to hold a greater turnout than the past few years, Prokopie said.

Dog pulls will take place at 2 p.m., on Saturday, during which family pets compete in different weight categories by pulling weighted sleds.

A three-on-three hockey tournament will take place throughout the weekend, and registrations are currently being accepted by calling 306-962-1946.

Unique to this year’s event will be a children’s carnival, hosted by Sylvan Learning Centre, featuring face painting and balloon animals, along with various games and activities.

A petting zoo will also be hosted at the outdoor event, pending weather conditions.

“Last year we had some goats -- some miniature goats, some sheep and a couple of ponies and things like that,” Prokopie explained.

King trapper events, snow sculptures, a hot dog eating contest (at 2 p.m. on Saturday), raffles, sleigh rides will take place throughout the weekend, during which food service will also be on site.

A special flavour to the weekend will be the sale of walleye on a plate with fries and coleslaw -- a Winter Festival staple.

 

Unrelated events

The Canadian Challenge International Sled Dog Race will begin passing through the outdoor festival site shortly after its noon launch from downtown Prince Albert on Monday, Feb. 17.

All mushers are expected to finish passing through the site during the early morning, at which time Prokopie said that volunteers will cordon off the area in preparation for the Winter Festival’s outdoor component.

For more on the Canadian Challenge International Sled Dog Race, visit their website online at http://www.canadianchallenge.com.

The 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games will take place from Sunday, Feb. 16, to Saturday, Feb. 22, during which various facilities throughout the city will be packed with athletic events.

About 5,000 people are expected to fill the city for the Saskatchewan Winter Games alone.  A schedule of events is online at http://saskgames.ca

Organizations: Prince Albert, Canadian Challenge International Sled Dog Race, Daily Herald ANAVETS Seniors Heritage Centre Sylvan Learning Centre

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, North Saskatchewan River, Moose Jaw Northern Saskatchewan Red River Nashville

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