MLA REPORT: Carnival a must for MLA

Annual Vernon Winter Carnival on the agenda for Eric Foster

When it comes to local events, MLAs can’t play favourites. And there’s no shortage of fun and worthwhile events in and around Vernon that deserve to be mentioned in this space.

But I hope you’ll forgive me if I go out on a limb and say one of my personal favourites is the Vernon Winter Carnival.

What’s so great about the Winter Carnival? Let me count the ways.

First, it’s the largest winter festival in Western Canada, and the third largest in Canada.  And it’s worth mentioning the two larger events – Quebec City’s Carnivale and Ottawa’s Winterlude – are absolutely huge. To have Vernon’s Carnival bigger than winter festivals in places like Toronto, Niagara Falls, Winnipeg and Calgary is a real achievement.

True, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. But over 10 days and 100 separate events, Vernon’s Carnival is positively packed.  From the unofficial kickoff event – the Balloon Fiesta – to the 10-kilometre run on the festival’s last day, there’s something for everyone.

2012 is the Carnival’s 52nd year, and while there are yearly favourites like the parade, I’m always discovering something new to do. For example, this year my wife and I are taking advantage of dance lessons at Cheek to Cheek Dance Studio. Dance lessons are a great idea, not just because it will be fun, but it’s one way to compensate for all the amazing jopo house lunches.

But while discovering new events and activities, I look forward to a few favourite events every year. I particularly enjoy the Queen Silver Star Excellence Program, which along with the parade marks the beginning of the Carnival. It’s a pageant for young women aged 16 to 20. They compete based on talent, impromptu speaking, and more.  One of my constituency assistants is a former Princess Silver Star, and if she’s any indication, these young women are destined for great things.

One of the most fun ways to support the Carnival is by having someone arrested: a coworker, employee, friend – or better yet, your boss. The Carnival’s Arrest the Best program features “official” Carnival Cops, who come to your workplace and place the arrested in their jail. The only way out is to call around and raise enough bail money for a release. Come to think of it, I hope this column doesn’t give my constituency office staff any ideas.

All those things are great, but when you get right down to it, the best reason to get behind the Winter Carnival is it’s great fun. If you’ll forgive the pun, the Carnival is cool.

And that’s more than enough reason to go.

Visit Eric’s website at

—Eric Foster is the MLA for Vernon-Monashee