Loving Winterfest

Gull Lake’s Winterfest Fireworks were the perfect end to the day’s celebrations.

By Craig Baird

Layla and I have lived in many different places, and each place has its own unique festivals. Stony Plain, the town I grew up near, had its annual Farmer’s Days, a celebration of the area’s agriculture industry. Edmonton had Klondike Days, and later Capital X, while Calgary had the Calgary Stampede. High River had Guy Weadick Days, celebrating the ranching history of the area, while Fairview had a summer festival to mark the end of the warm season. Rossland had its Winter Carnival, which was the oldest Winter Carnival in Canada. One of the more unique things about Rossland’s Winter Carnival was that people could build bobsleds and then race them down the streets of this mountain town.

I love festivals, and, having experienced my first Winterfest, I have to say that Gull Lake ranks right up there with all the festivals I have experienced.

Months ago, when Layla and I were asked if we wanted to sit on the Winterfest board, we jumped at the chance to begin planning the second edition of this great winter festival. Sure, winter is a long and sometimes annoying season, but as Canadians, winter defines us. We should celebrate it and Winterfest was all about celebrating winter. Nearly every activity, except the Winterfest Art and Trade Show, the meals, and bingo, were outside. There were the usual winter treats like taffy on snow-cones, and, of course, hot chocolate, along with the Canadian-tradition of hockey outside in the snow and cold. There were also some other great activities, like snow painting with coloured water, and my favourite, snow mini-golf.

I loved it all. I was able to meet and speak with many local residents, have some fun in the winter sun, and celebrate what makes winter great. The weather was perfect too; crystal blue sky and just the right amount of cold. You don’t want it to be too warm for a winter celebration after all.

The timing of Winterfest was perfect too. Have it in November and you are celebrating winter before winter has really begun. There are still several long and cold winter months ahead. In January, well, that can be a depressing month…

The end of February was perfect. The winter is beginning to wane (except for this week) and spring is really just around the corner. It is a great send-off to winter, and, in a way, a welcoming of spring.

Oh, and the fireworks! I have seen many fireworks shows in Western Canada and Gull Lake’s Winterfest fireworks certainly rank among the best, which is pretty amazing for such a great small town.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to next year’s edition of Winterfest, a celebration that I think will only get bigger and better.

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