Out with a bang

The final weekend of the Winter Festival was set off with fireworks and a bonfire. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Winter Festival a huge success

After the 2018 Prince Albert Winter Festival, there’s nowhere to go but up.

The festival was highlighted by sold-out events and record-breaking crowds, culminating in a final weekend that packed the Alfred Jenkins Field House, both inside and out.

“It exceeded all expectations. It was wildly successful as far as I’m concerned,” said Barry Mihilewicz, Winter Festival Society president.

“Everything was awesome. Everything we did, attendance was great.”

With several events happening across different venues on different days, it’s hard to quantify exactly how many people came through the festival. But Mihilewicz said about 1,500 buttons were sold on site over the last weekend, more than ever before.
In addition, 766 plates of fish were served at the fish fry, in addition to the bannock burgers and stew served, as well as the long lines at the Alfred Jenkins Centre concession stand. One board member speculated it was the best-attended Winter Festival since the pulp mill was open.

“One of the staff members at the Jenkins said she has never been so exhausted after a day of work there,” Mihilewicz said.

The weather definitely helped boost attendance over the weekend, as did the return of the arm wrestling competition.

“The weather was something we had no control over. It was crazy how good the weather was,” Mihilewicz said.

“It was almost perfect. Minus eight degrees with no wind. That’s perfect Winter Festival weather. The dogs will run, they won’t overheat, but it’s nice enough that you can get bundled up without getting stupid bundles and go out. Everything cooperated this week.”

While the dog sled races, King Trapper events and arm wrestling were all well-attended, there was much more to the Winter Festival, including the Rock Show, Country North show, Voices of the North, the Gospel Show and more.

According to Mihilewicz, the Country North and Gospel Shows were packed. The rock show had lower attendance, but as a newer event, he expects it to continue to pick up.
Another popular show was the inaugural comedy show. It was put together by Kelly Taylor, and it sold out. He’s keen to do it again in 2019.

“Clearly there’s an interest. Clearly people are excited about the winter festival,” Mihilewicz said.

“It’s always so uplifting to have everything as well received as it was. I want to give a big shout out to the people of Prince Albert who came out and supported all of the events.”
He also thanked the supporters who came forward as sponsors, the staff at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre and at the city for all of their help.

“(The Winter Festival) is clearly well on its way to reviving its past glory,” he said.

Mihilewicz said he’s not the only one who’s excited about how well this year’s festival went.

“We’re going to look at all of the different possibilities,” he said

“There’s a lot of stuff — we have so many positives to build on from this. We’re very excited about what’s happened, and it’s very exciting to move forward. As much as we’re tired, there’s not a single one saying’ oh well, I’m not sure if I want to do this’. Everybody is saying ‘let’s go, let’s talk about next year.’”

Thierman Financial