It may very well be one of the most fun themes in the Vernon Winter Carnival’s 58-year history.
Prepare to walk the plank if you don’t have your Carnival button, plenty of “Arrrrrs” and “Ahoy, mateys,” eye patches and terrific costumes as Carnival gets set for A Pirate’s Carnival, Feb. 1 to 10.
The official countdown kicked off Wednesday at the Best Western Pacific Inn.
“The excitement over this theme is so contagious throughout the Okanagan,” said Carnival chairperson Deb White in the event’s official brochure. “Vernon Winter Carnival doesn’t cater to one age group. We ensure that there is something for everyone. This year, we have an amazing lineup of events, including many new events as well as the favourites. There is something for everyone.”
White was unable to attend the launch due to breaks in both feet suffered on vacation.
“We might be able to wheel her around in a special pirate chair,” joked vice-chairperson Martin van Holst, decked out in a pirate costume, as was Carnival executive director Vicki Proulx and a handful of other Carnival directors for the launch.
Proulx went through the list of all 99 events for the 59th annual Vernon Winter Carnival, adding that four – Suds and Cider; Unwined Downtown; Predator Ridge Parka Party and the Mother-Daughter Princess Tea – are sold out. Most of the other paid events are 50 per cent sold out or higher.
Carnival will officially kick off Jan. 31 with the annual Proclamation of Queen and Princess Silver Star, which is returning to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.
The 28th annual Hot Air Balloon Glow and Festival be on the opening weekend of Carnival (Balloon Glow is Friday, Feb. 1, at 5 p.m. at Polson Park), as will the B.C. Championship Snow Sculpture Competition at SilverStar Mountain Resort, along with the Over The Hill Downhill Ski Race at SilverStar.
The 59th annual Winter Carnival Parade will start at 12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, and follow the traditional route. The parade begins on 27th Street at Seaton Secondary School, heads south to 30th Avenue, then west to 31st Street before going north to the old Civic Arena site.
Representatives from a number of the events were on hand for the launch, some of which are celebrating milestone anniversaries with the Carnival, including the Vernon Pigeon and Poultry Club, ready to celebrate its 50th annual Feather Fancier Show and Antique and Collectibles Sale on Sunday, Feb. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Vernon Recreation Centre.
“We’ve been involved for 50 years. Not sure what happened in the other years,” laughed Dudley DeLeenheer of the Vernon Pigeon and Poultry Club, who brought along one of his Chanteclerc breed bantam chickens to the launch. “We will have lots of birds on display, it’s free, and there will be antiques on display.”
The Downtown Vernon Association’s 10th annual Chili Cook-Off goes Saturday, Feb. 9, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. featuring nine local restaurants. The public decides the winner.
“This is your chance to be a judge and decide which restaurant makes the best chili in Vernon,” said (Downtown) Dudley Coulter with the DVA. “Pick up your passport at the Vernon Winter Carnival officer or any of the participating restaurants to gain access to the best chili around.”
The 48th annual Vernon Winter Carnival Coca Cola Classic Pee Wee Hockey Tournament will run the same format as always from Feb. 7 to 10 with, of course, one major change: the event will be held at Kal Tire Place North following the demolition of the Vernon Civic Arena.
One of the new events is a Carnival of Goodlife Fitness, presented by the gym located in the Real Canadian Superstore.
“This is our first year and we are excited to be part of Carnival,” said Susan Hickman of Goodlife Fitness. “Everything will be free that day and we invite everyone to come and try out a class, or get a free gym orientation. And there will be door prizes as well.”
Wings Restaurant is planning to transform its facility into a pirate ship for the Wings Pirate Ship Party on Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Running throughout the duration of Carnival will be the Valley First Treasure Hunt, presented by Valley First, a Division of First West Credit Union.
“We’ve teamed up with local businesses and will be putting on a scavenger hunt,” said Curt Reimer, assistant branch manager at Valley First on Highway 6 in Vernon. “There will be a map and you have to visit all of the participating businesses. You’ll have to post some photos or complete some challenges (which will be posted on the Carnival site and Facebook page after Jan. 31).”
Prizes include a voucher anywhere WestJet flies in Canada, and there will prizes for children as well.
A full list of Carnival events can be found on the Carnival website, vernonwintercarnival.com/events