Armstrong’s Hassen Arena could play a vital role in a proposed community-wide event the first weekend in December to be called Winterlude. (Morning Star - file photo)

North Okanagan Winterlude proposed to brighten spirits

Community-wide gathering at Armstrong’s IPE Fairgrounds proposed for first weekend in December

When the world returns to some semblance of normal, Armstrong’s Interior Provincial Exhibition board has an idea.

If large gatherings are allowed come fall, the IPE is proposing an event that “brings the entire community together to celebrate and get outside.”

The first Winterlude would be held the first weekend of December at the IPE grounds, and the IPE board is proposing to host the event along with the Township of Spallumcheen and City of Armstrong.

“With the current situation in the world and our immediate communities, there will come a time when the community will need (want) to come together and celebrate, socialize, and let’s face it, just get out of the house and speak to other humans,” wrote IPE general manager Yvonne Paulson in a letter to city and township councils.

Paulson imagines the setting at the IPE Fairgrounds would feature horse-drawn carriages (sleighs or wagons) giving rides to families around the grounds. The Hassen Arena would be home to a Festive Marketplace with a farmers’ market, vendors and Christmas crafts.

Outside, there would be food vendors, entertainment, a light display for families to walk through, and perhaps an axe-throwing game (electronic) and maple syrup on ice.

There could also be a family dance one night and an adult dance the next.

Paulson believes the event would draw people from the Okanagan and Shuswap.

“We just really need to do something that brings the community together,” she said.

All three partners would share in the expenses and the revenue, though Paulson is applying for a provincial grant to help with costs.

If there is an agreement by all partners, the next step is to put together a committee that is represented by all three partners to start the planning.

Both city and township councils have deliberated the proposal.

The city will support the grant application, but if there is no grant, they won’t approve financially supporting it.

The township deferred the request to the joint Armstrong-Spallumcheen Parks and Recreation Committee, and to check with other groups involved first as there are a lot of winter events that take place in Armstrong and Spallumcheen.

“We want to make sure everyone is on board with the project,” said township Mayor Christine Fraser. “With finances being tight this year, the township will not be able to participate in a large way financially if it does come to fruition. If the other community groups support it we will support their application for grant funding.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated on Tuesday, April 21, with the discussion results from the township and city

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