by Morinville News Staff
Morinville – It’s another weekend of something for everyone this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The fifth annual St. Jean Baptiste Festival kicks off Friday afternoon in and around the Ray McDonald Sports Center (arena). Organizers of this year’s volunteer-run community festival are confident this will be the best one yet.
“It’s a continuation of everything we’ve built on last year with the record crowds, and were looking to this year to enhance everything,” said 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. “Everything is bigger. There is more of everything. It’s our town showing we are between a big city and a small town festival.”
Smith said the festival is making use of the arena’s parking lot for the midway once again for the Rotary Rock ‘N’ Ride. Wristbands for the evening-long music and motion event can be pre-purchased up until Friday night at Noah’s Ark Pets and Supplies on 100 Avenue.
Plenty of music
But not all the musical entertainment will be in the midway. Smith said there would be three music stages this year. The Community Stage will be in the midway and feature local amateur talent. The Servus Stage will be in the Rendez-Vous parking lot and feature up-and-coming local musicians. The beer garden stage will be in Lions Park across from the arena and feature professional musicians.
“The community entertainment level is definitely enhanced from absolute amateur to some professional entertainment all throughout the day,” Smith said. “It gives opportunity for professional musicians on the beer garden stage, intermediate musicians on the Servus Stage, and amateurs on the Community Stage. They can also expect Caviar Players and Dance Connection on the Community Stage.”
But the music doesn’t stop on the stages distributed through the festival grounds; it will also be the focus Saturday night when the ACFA Country BBQ Cabaret hits the high note at the cultural centre. The evening features opening act Crystal Plamondon and will continue with the Morinville Festival Band headed by Ed Bulger and featuring Rob Kaup and Christen Maslyk. Committee members Paul Smith and David LeBel will also join the band. Tickets are $15 and are available at Noah’s Ark.
Lots for kids to do
This year’s festival, in addition to the midway and Saturday’s Re/Max Parade, will have lots for children to do. The Festival Committee has lined up children’s crafts and a large selection of pet activities to entertain children throughout the weekend.
“We’ve got the biggest pet activity list of any festival that we’ve ever done,” Smith said. “From all the rescue [societies] and all that to dog agility and hamster races. This is the full dog agility. Most places don’t get that. This is the 80 [foot] by 100 [foot] agility track. This is really taking the spirit of a three-day festival and seeing it through.”
Also on the calendar for children’s activities is the Putnam and Lawson Kids’ Crafts event, taking place in the curling rink Saturday afternoon. “They do all kinds of things,” Smith said. “Last year they were planting plants and making flower beds. It’s cool crafts.”
In addition to pet activities and crafts, Smith said that J.M. Turner Gold Smith and the Morinville Lions would be holding their annual kids’ Tractor Pull in front of the arena Saturday afternoon and that Princess Elsa from Disney’s Frozen will be walking the festival grounds after the parade. Additionally, a Cinderella carriage will be located in Lions Park behind the beer garden for children and parents to have their photo taken.
Smith is hoping people will once again come out to support the festival and what it has become. “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 five 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.”
CLICK THE FESTVAL FUN GUIDE BELOW FOR A FULL LIST OF EVENTS