INNISFAIL – The town is joining forces with the Innisfail and District Historical Village to host Innisfail’s first ever winter festival, a one-day event that will highlight the season’s magical beauty and creativity.
The event is officially called Snow & Tumbleweeds: A celebration of Winter in the Prairies. The town’s new winter festival is scheduled to take place outdoors at the historical village on Saturday, Jan. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There is no cost to attend, but donations to the historical village will be accepted.
“The historical village is such a great venue for an event, and honestly it is way easier to plan on something being outside, even give the (current) weather,” said Kane Williams, the town’s recreation program coordinator.
“It is a winter festival and this is going to be the first time running it. It’s brand new this year,” he added. “We just want to celebrate the things that are really great about winter in Innisfail.”
The town and village have been talking about a winter festival idea since 2020 but because of the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the accompanying restrictions, it took a while to put it all together.
“We were able to do it this year because more people can meet outside,” said Anna Lenters, president of the Innisfail and District Historical Society. “Dress properly. There is never bad weather. There’s just bad clothing, right? Get out and enjoy these big blue skies and sunshine we have here.”
Williams and Lenters said a full line-up of “cool” stuff is planned for the day, including displays and demonstrations of ice sculptures by artists from the Sculptors' Association of Alberta.
“What we are hoping to do is to celebrate a lit bit of the creativity, artistry and magic of winter. Our hope is that they will be doing the sculptor work onsite, so people can watch them do the sculptures, ask them questions and watch them through their process, and as part of the festival they (sculptures) will be on display,” said Williams.
There will also be fun and excitement from the Guns of the Golden West: Canada’s Original Old West Show, with actors across the province interacting with the audience through wild and entertaining performances of mock gun battles that include desperate train robbing outlaws, determined bounty hunters and lawmen.
Lenters said the first performance will be at noon, followed by ones at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Between each show there will be photo opportunities for the public.
Williams and Lenters added the town and village are also planning other events to highlight winter creativity, such as snow painting, ice bubbles, a boiling tea competition, Bannock cooking on a fire pit, and maple taffy on snow, which will be demonstrated by Edmonton-based Canadian Maple Shack.
There will also be hot chocolate on hand, as well as warm-up stations, including a trio of bonfires. None of the village’s buildings will be open to the public but citizens will have access to washrooms, which include change tables for infants.
“It’s an outdoor event and we do encourage people to dress for the conditions. It is a winter festival and you have to work through winter in order to enjoy it,” said Williams, noting the recent bitterly cold weather. “We are really hoping to get some good weather. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
Organizers emphasize that despite the event being held outdoors all provincially mandated COVID guidelines and restrictions must be followed.
“We do ask that everyone wear a mask,” said Lenters, noting the event is considered an outdoor activity under provincial COVID guidelines, and a cap on participant numbers is not required. “The museum buildings are not open to the public right now, so this being said it is like a park, an outdoor event.”
She added organizers are still in need of volunteers, especially for monitoring the bonfires. Lenters said any citizen wanting to help can call her at 403-227-2906.