Out and about at the Prince Albert Winter Festival

Are you getting sick of snow and ice yet?

I hope not. It’s exactly zero degrees outside as I write this, and that’s an unfortunate development on one of the few weeks where I actually hope the weather turns and stays cold.

The Prince Albert Winter Festival is always an event I look forward too, even if the warm weather forces organizers to cancel dog sled races and turns the most intricate ice sculptures into mush. The sheer number of events has always impressed me, as has the drive and determination of the volunteer organizers who make it happen.

I’m sorry to write I had never heard of the Prince Albert Winter Festival before joining the Herald—a fact I attribute to only visiting the area in the summer. The first event I remember covering was Voices of the North, where I expected to photograph and interview a few young musicians performing for an audience of a few dozen people. How wrong I was.

The lack of parking spots should have been my first clue. I drove onto the exhibition grounds roughly 15-20 minutes early, expecting to pull up a few spaces short of the door, jump out, interview a performer or two, take some photos, and leave after the first three acts. Instead, I ended up circling the parking lot until I gave up and halted next to a snowbank on the far east side. I was closer to the Dave Steuart Arena than the Exhibition Centre.

Packed doesn’t begin to describe the Exhibition Centre interior. If family members were the only people in attendance, I thought, then these performers came from the largest families in Saskatchewan. It was my first taste of the Prince Albert Winter Festival, and I’ve enjoyed every year since.

In an era where it’s fashionable to dump on your home town, I’ve always appreciated people who stop complaining and work hard to make things better. Instead of sitting around griping about what Prince Albert doesn’t have, Winter Festival organizers and volunteers have given the city an event they can be proud of. It’s an entirely home grown event promoting home grown talent. The list includes singers and songwriters, painters and sculptors, brewers and beard growers, and arm wrestlers and mushers.

I’m not sure if I’ll make it out to Voice of the North this year, but I plan to take in a few events as my schedule allows. I won’t be there as an editor or a journalist, but as a Prince Albert resident who is excited to see what the community offers.

I hope those of you who have never been to a Prince Albert Winter Festival event will change that this year. The city has an incredible amount of talent, and the winter festival does an excellent job of giving it centre stage. It’s something we should be proud of.

Jason Kerr is the editor of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.