Vernon Winter Carnival pivotal in local history

Events may come and go, but the essence of Carnival remains

It has evolved over its decorated history, but the impact of the Vernon Winter Carnival remains the same.

Few festivals have left as lasting an impression on a community as Vernon’s iconic 10-day festival. Several North Okanagan happenings had to occur before Carnival evolved into what it is now.

Related: Vernon Winter Carnival prepped for kick off

According to the Vernon Winter Carnival historians, the first ever Winter Carnival happened long before the annual edition took root Jan. 27 to Feb. 5, 1961.

Originally held on Kalamalka Lake Feb. 23, 1893, original organizers said that the Carnival was a unique occurrance in British Columbia.

Years later, the Vernon Rotary Club looked to host a Winter Carnival in the 1940s.

These carnivals laid the groundwork for what has become perhaps the most iconic festival Vernon has to offer.

Several events from the 1961 Vernon Winter Carnival remain today such as the annual hockey tournament. Now known as the Coca-Cola Classic Pee Wee Hockey Tournament, which is in its 48th year, the tournaments began as a minor hockey jamboree. In 1966, jopo appeared as Bill and Lorraine Allum donned the original jester garb.

Vicki Proulx, executive director, said the best part of Carnival is hearing stories from all demographics. Whether it’s about Carnivals past or present, Proulx said that community engagement is what keeps the Carnival strong.

“I think to have an event running for 59 years is amazing,” Proulx said.

Events have come and gone, but the legacy of the original Vernon Winter Carnival continues today.


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