Winterfest 2005 Review

Winterfest was an idea borne out of teamwork. As 19 organizations gathered together at meeting after meeting, since January of this year, they put together an excellent festival, despite the short time and especially the uncooperative weather.

While there were many events that were not affected by the lack of snow, a few things had to be postponed and will take place at a date to be announced very soon. What was available to Tumbler Ridge residents was still very impressive. Many people supported Winterfest with the purchase of a button for $3 each. When you consider all that was done for free, the minimal cost seems almost unbelievable.

The kick-off was a great parade, which started at the Legion, headed past the caboose and library and back towards the Legion. They had a great showing of entries, with 26 different vehicles, floats, etc. The Chamber of Commerce deserves a big cheer, as they had so much to do with the success of the parade.

Following the parade were the Opening Ceremonies on the steps of Town Hall. Brian Bray opened the event by thanking everyone who came out and went over the changes in the schedule. He also announced the winner of the Snow Sculpting contest, which went to the Joe, Josie and Matthew Schmidt, with help from Matt Buhler, Julianna and Jonathan Martineau and Tanya Acorn.He then handed the microphone over to Mayor Clay Iles, who gave a supportive speech and then introduced the South Peace MLA Blair Lekstrom. Lekstrom reiterated his pride in Tumbler Ridge and the ambition we show here and was pleased to take part in the parade, the opening ceremonies at Town Hall and a presentation at the arena as well. Both the Mayor and MLA lit the torch, which caused a big reaction from the crowd. George Lajeunesse, Stacey Lajeunesse and Jared Doonan made the torch.

The Mayor took the microphone back once more, to deliver a very touching story. He had attended a torch lighting in Winnipeg, Manitoba in the past and found it to be an overwhelming and proud moment. In an emotional moment, he likened this event to feel the same for him.

Following the opening ceremonies, people were invited to shop as the stores stayed open late for Winterfest Madness. As if late shopping weren?t already the cat?s meow, they gave discounts as well. Also open late and having had their grand opening that same day was the TR Gallery. A bonfire went until 9:00, with the Scouts selling hotdogs and drinks close to the grocery store.

Saturday morning was a feast for kings as both the Golf Course and Lion?s club put on a breakfast. The Lion?s Club had a pancake breakfast in the basement of the Legion.

The Tumbler Ridge Smokee Blue Stars, which is the novice division, had a 2010 Spirit of BC tournament all weekend, playing up against the following teams: Taylor Tornadoes, Chetwynd Mini-Icemen, Chetwynd Wolverines, Dawson Creek Cougars and the Dawson Creek Mini-Canucks, who took first place. The 2010 Trophy and Banner presented to the tournament Friday night, February 11th by Mayor Clay Illes and MLA Blair Lekstrom went home with the Mini-Canucks following the closing ceremonies at the arena on Sunday at 4 pm.

Curling events took place on Saturday from 1 pm – 4 pm. Each contestant was given 4 rocks and the most points won overall. The winner this year was Ken Coal with 12 points. Seventy-five percent of the money collected was given as prize money with the remaining twenty-five going to a Winterfest Fund for next year.

Market Square was a busy place to be, as crafters and home-based businesses had tables of various items to appeal to everyone. There was some inventive entrepreneuring going on as young girls purchased lip balms and tried to up-sell them afterwards. There was a beautiful quilt display towards Sheila?s Place, with several lovely quilts all hand-made by the hard-working Ridge Ripper?s Quilt Guilders.

Saturday night finished off with a Winterfest dance hosted by the Tumbler Ridge Community Arts Council with a cash bar hosted by TR Days Society (Grizfest). The live band was Hourglass Road and there was good music, hot finger foods and spirits to enjoy.

Sunday the tournament play-offs continued while ,Gary Doonan and Harry Prosser of the Grizzly Valley Saddle Club provided free horse and wagon rides around town during the afternoon. Originally slated to be horse and sleigh rides at the Golf Course, plans had to change with their being too much ice there and unsafe for the horses.

Speaking of the Golf Course, they were open for three meals on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday. The Golf Course is a beautiful spot to overlook the scenery in Tumbler Ridge and they usually are closed in the colder months, but stayed open for Winterfest.

The Dog Sled Races (NRD), tea boil (Jr. Rangers), cross country skiing (WNMS) and schmoozing (2 by 4 a go-go) were unfortunately unable to take place this weekend, as the conditions weren?t right for them. Hopefully we will have a better chance at some of these events when we do Winterfest again. Dog Sled Races are postponed temporarily, likely taking place in March.

The closing ceremonies saw few people attend to extinguish the flame on the torch for the first annual Winterfest. It is the hope of the committee that this festival will happen every year, with more and more groups and events planned so that it can build into a great tradition for years to come. This is a lead-in to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, BC.

Note: There are Winterfest buttons available for sale at Impressions, the Community Centre, and the Ridge Cafe. The Sled Dog races and Tea Boil and the 2×4 races will be held on March 19th at the Golf Course (if there is enough snow) or if there isn?t enough snow, the race will be in the mountains.