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Pemberton expands Winter Festival in anticipation of 2010

A Chance for Kids Foundation poised to grant $16,000 to four local youth athletes

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An expanded Pemberton Valley Winter Festival will highlight local arts and culture alongside winter sports Feb. 10, 11 and 12.

An initiative of the community’s Spirit of B.C. Committee, the festival has been developed to leverage Olympic opportunities. The model for this winter country fair concept comes courtesy of Heber City. The small rural community in Utah, used its proximity to Salt Lake City to bring Olympic guests to Heber by the busload to enjoy an evening of country hospitality with a nightly Wild West Round-up during the 2002 Winter Games.

Pemberton’s Spirit committee plans to develop a similar grassroots event to put Pemberton on the map as an alternative source of entertainment during the 2010 Winter Games. Keeping with a grassroots philosophy, the event reflects the resources of the Pemberton Valley and the people who call it home. This year will see more emphasis on the fine arts and crafts communities.

On Friday afternoon, a three-day exhibit of spinning, weaving, knitting and beading, hosted by the Pemberton Seniors Club, opens at the Pemberton Valley Lodge. At 7 p.m., there’s a wine and cheese cocktail reception at the Pemberton Golf and Country Club. Works on display include those by renowned stained-glass artist Judy Bourhis, potter Meg Gallup and First Nations sculptor Billy Dan.

"We’ve expanded this year to include more venues," said committee member Jan Kennett. "We realized last year that we needed more indoor venues. So, for example, we will have a seniors crafts and artisan show at the Pemberton Valley Lodge."

Building on the success of last year’s event, the two Saturday night dances – a video dance party for youth held in conjunction with the YOUth Decide forum and Snowdown, an adult-only event at Big Sky Golf and Country Club – return this year.

Tickets to the dances are $5 and $20 respectively. All other events are free or by donation.

"Any fundraising that we do through any of the events we put on we want to give back to the Chance for Kids Foundation headed up by Lonne Clark," said Kennett.

The non-profit organization, founded in conjunction with the Sprit of B.C., awards grants to offset the costs associated with developing young athletes. This year four young people, whose names have yet to be announced, will be awarded a total of $16,000 at a ceremony following the festival’s opening parade and flag raising on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Sunday’s focus will be Winter Spirit Games consisting of skijoring (a sport in which a skier is drawn over ice or snow by a horse or vehicle), dog sled rides, sleigh rides, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Those still standing at 4 p.m. can join in a friendly hockey tournament at the outdoor ice rink.

While most of the sporting events are happening on Sunday, cross-country ski enthusiast Dolores Los, is organizing cross-country ski sprints to take place on Saturday, Feb 11 at the former PACA lands located at the corner of Portage and Cottonwood. Previously held up the meadows, Los felt it was time to bring the races into town as part of Winterfest.

"These are very exciting races," said Los. "Short races are spectator friendly. You can see the racers at all times."

The distance kids cover is 100 metres, while adults race up to one km. The past two races have attracted more than 100 participants from Whistler, Hollyburn and the Vancouver Nordic clubs.

Tickets for Snowdown, featuring the Western Stranger Band, are available at the Pemberton Trading Co., Paperworks and the Pemberton Valley Lodge.

A complete listing of events can be found online at: www.pemberton.net . Programs will also be available at businesses throughout Pemberton.

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