By Nicole Fitzgerald
More people are getting behind Pemberton Valley’s annual Winterfest celebration, Friday, Feb. 9 to Sunday, Feb. 11. The committee doubled in size, more than a dozen enthusiastic individuals attended a festival building workshop last fall, more organizations jumped on board and even a new group, the Pemberton Arts Council, sprouted from last year’s celebration.
The Pemberton spirit is alive, well and expressing itself in new events as well as traditional favourites in preparation for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“We all want to celebrate our unique mountain culture,” said organizer France Lamontagne. “We’ve added more days and nights to the festival. What Winterfest has tried to do for the past three years is integrate sports, arts and community. It’s all about the Pemberton Valley (and) Mount Currie. We’ve got fantastic artists in the area and it’s a way for them to gather and to showcase their work to the community and visitors.”
Artists are definitely the stars of the weekend with not one, but four exhibits over the three days.
The Artisans Exhibit, hosted by the Pemberton Seniors Association, showcases different afternoon exhibits every day of the festival at the Pemberton Valley Lodge. The Friday event from 4 to 7 p.m. showcases a wide variety of fiber arts including weaving, spinning, dyeing, knitting and other textile handicrafts. First Nations crafts are highlighted Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m., including jewelry, basket weaving, carving and taxidermy. Anything goes at the Sunday show from 2 to 5 p.m. with the afternoon highlighting metal and leatherwork as well as jewelry and photography.
Music joins the artist playbill with Gordo strumming up the Showcase of Art, Wine and Cheese Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Big Sky Golf and Country Club.
Relax into the acoustic vibe with wine glass in hand to browse the fine art of Chris Ankeny, Judy Bourhis, Frances Dickinson, Gavin Duffell, Meg Gallup, Toshi Kawano, Lisa Komuro, Karen Love, Tim Napier, Lynn Pocklington, Vanessa Stark, Wim Tewinkle and Mike Tyler. Admission is by donation.
But adults aren’t the only creative force in town. A new art event showcases Pemberton and Mount Currie emerging artists at the Youth Art Exhibit Monday, Feb. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Pemberton Secondary School. Imagination will splash itself everywhere with an art show, woodwork exhibit, yearbook class display, drama and sports presentations and musical performances.
Also new this year, youth continue to get in on the fun with the inaugural Winterfest Youth Video Dance on Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Pemberton Community Centre. The Pemberton Youth Centre will keep kids ages 13 to 18 years old dancing all night long. Tickets are $12.
“They felt in past years there was no room for youth involvement,” Lamontagne said. “The interest was always there, but there was nothing special for them to do. The dance and art night is a great way to get them involved.”
There are two more new events: a street party with live entertainment and a culinary dinner showcase.
Guitar Doug and Grateful Greg of the infamous Hairfarmers will be rocking out the Street Party Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion parking lot. The free outdoor concert includes a fire-spinning show as well as a beer garden. The Hairfarmers, recently voted 2006 Best Whistler Band, never disappoint with their high-octane delivery and interactive good time.
Four of the Sea to Sky corridor’s finest chefs come together for the Chefs Culinary Showcase Dinner Sunday from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at the Pemberton Valley Vineyard and Inn. The Pemberton Rotary Club fundraiser is already sold out.
All of the traditional Winterfest favourites are there with the Winterfest Parade Saturday at 11 a.m. starting at Pemberton Secondary School. Providing winter cooperates, Equifest cowboys and gals will join the community parade that marches down Frontier to Aster and Prospect Street and finally to the Royal Canadian Legion where the Winterfest opening ceremony takes place at 11:45 a.m. The welcoming address includes the national anthem sung by Anita Burleson and First Nations drumming and dancing.
Crowds will then move over at 12:15 p.m. to the Pemberton Museum where there is plenty of family fun with workshops, art exhibits, Chicks with Picks, Pemberton Choir, The Cocobeans band, The Jocelyn Band, snow carving challenge, ice sculpture competition, food and more.
The day doesn’t stop with Buskertown tuning in at 2 p.m. at the town centre. In addition to First Nations storytelling, potato sack race and a Lions Club food concession. There will also be music from The Jocelyn Band, Greasy Jack, Rainbow Leigh, Christina Maria and Jaron Freeman-Fox.
Winterfest gets chilly with the Pemberton Fire and Rescue’s Polar Bear Swim on Sunday with registration at 11:45 a.m. at One Mile Lake. Clothes come off at noon.
“I hope people think ‘this weekend I am not leaving Pemberton’,” Lamontagne said. “The festival is for families. It’s for everyone.”