By The Morinville News Staff
Morinville – It’s another weekend of something for everyone this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The third annual St. Jean Baptiste Festival kicks off Friday afternoon in and around the Ray McDonald Sports Centre (arena). Organizers of this year’s volunteer-run community festival are pretty confident this will be the best one yet.
“It’s going to be exciting because everything is in one venue, and you can easily see what’s going on everywhere and be assured you are not missing anything,” said 2012 Festival Chair Paul Smith, adding the festival has grown from a one-day town fair to a weekend-long festival that is drawing local and regional visitors. “We’re building on the past two years of success. Because people were so excited to come back, we’ve maintained the level of last year, plus we are increasing the size of the midway and including more events.”
Smith said because the festival is making use of the arena’s parking lot for the midway, they are able to bring iN more rides than they were able to last year at the Parish Hall. But while the midway has increased, the price of the Rotary Rock ‘N’ Ride has not. Wrist bands for the evening-long music and motion event will cost $20 again this year if bracelets are pre-purchased before Friday night, $25 if bought Friday night. They are available at Noah’s Ark Pets and Supplies on 100 Avenue.
But not all the high flying action will be in the midway. Smith, his committee and Morinville’s business community have teamed up to bring Morinville some different festival entertainment this year. Saturday will see the Servus Credit Union Aerial Circus performing two shows and a work shop in the arena, and Sunday afternoon brings Force Pro Wrestling back to town for another exciting afternoon of professional wrestling sponsored by The Morinville News. “Wrestling is a great addition to this festival because it hits so many age levels,” Smith said. “When we brought it in last time there were young kids to seniors in the stands, all cheering the heroes and booing the bad guys.” Smith said, adding both the circus and wrestling shows are free events, but donations will be accepted to help fund events for next year’s festival. “We’re really looking forward to seeing the aerial ballet maneuvers of the Aerial Circus. It’s something that is both a feat of physical endurance and skill, and yet poetic at the same time.”
Concerts will once again form a big part of the weekend’s activities. Friday night will see a return performance by The Canyon Rose Outfit taking place at the arena, and Saturday night sees Loverboy performing at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. While red leather pants and 80s music takes place across town, the arena will play host to a laser light DJ dance cabaret, an event Smith said is geared towards the 18- to 30-year-old crowd. “It’s just a good dance night, club atmosphere, with a tonne of lights and glow sticks everywhere,” he said. “We’ve got a great DJ, Matt Harrison.”
Festival will also have all the other events that have helped make the event a success the past few years. The Firefighters’ Combat Challenge, farmers’ market, festival parade, Council pancake breakfast, Bumper-to-Bumper Show and Shine, Sturgeon County Children’s Stage, and opening night fireworks will all be back this year.
“This festival has started to distinguish Morinville as a special kind of community that can actually put something of this magnitude on,” Smith said. “It is not every small town that can put a festival on that is this huge, and sustain it for years. We’ve been doing a huge festival for three years. People are starting to expect it. People are driving here from Edmonton, from St. Albert, and from all around to come here. It’s an important day for Morinville. It’s a fantastic introduction to the community.”