INNISFAIL – For the second year in a row, organizers for the 2nd annual Innisfail Harvest Festival had uncanny luck.
The weather, so unpredictable in Alberta, could not have been any better for the two-day festival at Centennial Park on Sept. 16 and 17.
“We've lucked out two years in a row with the weather. It’s really warm today. I am expecting it to go up to 28 degrees today,” said Jamie Flaman, vice-president of the Innisfail Special Events Planning Society (ISEPS) that organized the festival.
Under a gorgeous morning glow, a two-hour pancake breakfast was served up by the Rotary Club of Innisfail to open the festival on Sept. 16.
That was followed by the opening ceremonies, with hundreds of Innisfailians and out-of-town visitors arriving at the park to take in a wide assortment of entertainment, culture and art options spread out before them.
“It takes a lot to put on an event like this, and we try really, really hard to keep it free for the community,” said Flaman.
The festival offered dance demonstrations, which included the Red Deer Indigenous Dance Troupe, magic shows, music from Cole Malone, a full market with 30 vendors, carriage rides, a kids tractor pull, food trucks, bouncy castles, face painting, and beer gardens.
There was even a spinning wheel demonstration from Innisfailian Jamie Graham.
“This (festival) was a good opportunity to do this for the public,” said Graham. “Civilizations have spun fibres into string and yarn for many thousands of years.”
And then there was the Scarecrow competition, the festival’s signature event.
This year’s 30 scarecrow entries were down from the 40 last year but the quality level of craftsmanship was eye-popping.
“There were less entries but man did they ever put in the effort,” said Flaman.
Placed strategically along the park’s trail just south of the parking lot, the long row of scarecrows was meticulously displayed to showcase the impressive artistic skills and craftsmanship from local citizens and organizations; some of them inspirationally fun, others truly scary but all masterfully created to earn repeated praises from a long steady line of admirers.
On the festival’s second day all scarecrow entries were judged in various categories.
The MacKinnon family claimed the People’s Choice Award.
In the kid’s category first place went to the Grade 3 class at École John Wilson Elementary School, while the institution’s Grade 4 class claimed second place.
In the adult category first place went to Brittany Letourneau for her Snow White Witch entry. Second place went to Kim and Bruce Cohoe for the couple’s Spread Kindness Scarecrow submission.
The best business entry was from the Innisfail & Area Family Day Home Society while Co-op Agro Innisfail picked up second place.
In sports, the Innisfail Hurricanes Water Polo Club won first place while the Innisfail Minor Lacrosse Association claimed second.
As the second day of the harvest festival was coming to a close a huge crane rolled into the park for the 3rd annual Innisfail Kinsmen Golf Ball Drop; a fundraiser for the service club’s many ongoing community projects.
“All the money we raise will go back into the community,” said Tim Ainscough, Kinsmen treasurer and co-chair of golf ball drop. “We built a playground in July this year and we're building another one next weekend, and then we hope to do our back nine to the disc golf course this fall.”
He said a total of 835 balls were purchased by citizens at $10 each. When the crane was in position they were dropped. The one closest to the pin was the winner of a $1,500 cash prize. The second-place winner claimed $1,000 while the third closest received a $500 Subway gift card.
Following the ball drop, it was Alistair Loughlin who claimed first prize. Judy Vogel won second and Brant Martin picked up the third-place prize.
With the 2nd annual Innisfail Harvest Festival now successfully in the books the ISEPS will now turn its attention to a pair of events in November; an evening casino fundraiser at the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104 on Nov. 24, followed by an all-day Christmas Bazaar at the legion on Nov. 25.