Kickoff to Prehistoric Carnival approaches

Brittany Sjoblom gets into the Prehistoric spirit.

Vernon's Winter Carnival will soon take the city back in time. This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the event, and the theme "Prehistoric" hints at the longevity of this well-loved ten day marathon of February fun.

"I'm seeing lots of leopard print," says executive director Brittany Sjoblom, noting the Flinstones are a popular interpretation of the theme. She says businesses and schools are busy decorating their storefronts and classrooms with prehistoric paraphernalia in competition for the top set up.

"The event was designed to bring more fun to February," Sjoblom says, noting the cold, the dark, and the often depleted bank accounts of Christmas spenders, can leave people feeling a little low this time of year.

"This is aimed at Vernon, and the communities nearby," she says.

This year boasts over 100 events in ten days, starting Feb. 1 and running through to Feb. 10. There are the annual staples, including the proclamation of Queen Silver Star on the eve of the event, the Hot Air Balloon Glow and Fiesta, and the snow sculpture competition.

The snow sculpting competition begins Feb. 1 and is the prelude to the national competition in Quebec, the winners of which go the worlds.

"Ours is the only B.C. competition to get to Quebec," Sjoblom says, adding most of the sculptors are from out of town.

The Hot Air Balloon Glow is one of the most popular events, and Sjoblom says it usually attracts a crowd of  a few thousand to Polson Park to gaze skyward at colourfully lit hot air balloons bobbing in the darkness. The event, like many others, is free.

"We want people to go to lots of events," Sjoblom says. "If they were expensive, some people might only be able to go to one or two."

The event has roots as a very accessible event, and Sjoblom says it will always be that way. The goal isn't to make money, though the proceeds of some events are put towards coordinating next year's carnival. One of the larger fundraisers involves the carnival police.

"You always have to have your carnival button on," Sjoblom says. "Carnival police are out to arrest anyone without theirs."

She says it's common for people to call in and report their boss, who then gets thrown in the carnival jail. The bail money is donated to the carnival. Buttons are for sale at the carnival office on 35th Ave. and in certain businesses around town.

Events like Fantastic Fossils at the Okanagan Science Centre will add an educational aspect to the carnival. 

This year's leading sponsor is Fix Auto, and a full listing of events can be found on the Winter Carnival website.

—Charlotte Helston

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