There will be a host of changes at the fourth annual Pemberton Winterfest, as organizers recently received a boost in funding.
France Lamontagne, chairperson of the Pemberton Winterfest committee, has been working on building the event since its inception in 2004.
She says this year’s celebration will include everyone from the community, whether they are youth, seniors, or businesspeople.
“It’s all about bringing everybody together for 10 days of fun, outdoor and indoor, in the community,” Lamontagne explained.
Everyone can find a different way to contribute to making the event a success, such as donating money or time to make signs.
“We’re making it happen by everybody chipping in and helping out and getting creative, and making it Pemberton’s style.”
When Winterfest was first started, the festival was only two days long. The next festival ran for three days. This year, it will span ten days, running from Feb. 8-17.
Shortly after the Olympics Games announcement, Lamontagne and her partner realized that their community should get into the spirit of the Games, and could take advantage of the support and opportunities being offered through the Olympics to get Pemberton involved.
That’s exactly what they’re doing now. On top of the generous support of private sponsors over the years, the festival recently received grants from VANOC and the Spirit of B.C. program.
“It’s a token of future relations and better and bigger festivals, and we’ll be ready for 2010 because the visitors, when they go to the Olympics… they want to leave with the whole experience,” Lamontagne explained, “They want to travel south and north and west and east, and they want to discover Canada, so they’ll come here and we have to make sure they have a great time while they’re here.”
Events for this year will touch on a wide range of interests, from sports to the arts, in the hope that they can appeal to everyone.
“To have something for everyone, you have to diversify your program and then you touch the heart of everybody,” Lamontagne explained.
This year’s festival kicks off with the “Mountains of Art” exhibition at Big Sky Golf and Country Club on Feb. 8, featuring professional artists from the region.
The next morning, they plan to hold the Winterfest Parade, featuring special guests making their first trip to Pemberton: Sumi, Quatchi and Miga, the official mascots for 2010 Olympics and Paralympics.
The third annual polar bear swim at One Mile Lake and snow sculpture contest also promises to be a popular event this year, with huge prizes — including tickets to the Olympic Games — up for grabs.
They’ve also added a few new events to this year’s Winterfest.
The Pemberton Youth Soccer Association has organized a full-day street hockey tournament on Saturday, Feb. 16, for kids from throughout the Sea to Sky region.
They also plan to hold a Read-A-Thon and pyjama night, where students from Pemberton Secondary read aloud to children.
The final new event for this year is the Pemberton Mountain Film Festival, a three-night event to be held at the Copperdome Lodge in Pemberton Meadows that will feature locally and regionally produced films about air and snow sports, adventure and climbing.
Most events are free, but some are admission by donation. There will be a $10 charge for adults at the street party this year, though it will remain free for children and seniors.
Lamontagne says the experience of organizing WInterfest is exciting, and some committee members are already looking to create similar summer event to help bring the community together.
“It’s grassroots, it’s by the people for the people. It’s so cool and genuine and filled with energy, everyone has a good time here.
To find out more about volunteer opportunities, or to view a detailed schedule of events, visit the Pemberton Winterfest website at www.pembertonwinterfest.com.