by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville Festival Society has traded the St. Jean Baptiste Festival for Festival Days. The event will run June 16-18 at the Morinville Arena and festival grounds.
Festival Society President Korien Sampson and her committee are excited to present a reinvigorated festival, all the more so because of the return of the midway.
“We are so happy the midway is back. That cost us a lot of money last year by not having a midway,” Sampson said, noting the popular Rock ‘N’ Ride will return on the Friday night of Festival. Wristbands will be $25 and include weekend gate admission.
Friday night will also include a beer garden, food court, and some entertainment – a trilogy of items Sampson referred to as short and simple.
As has been the case in previous years, Saturday will be the big day with a pancake breakfast, festival parade, Home Hardware / Bumper-to-Bumper Show & Shine, helicopter rides, Firefighters Combat Challenge, and some children’s activities inside the arena.
One new Saturday item Sampson and her crew are excited about is the Canada 150 Participation event in the curling rink and outdoors. That event will include a scavenger hunt throughout the festival grounds for a cash prize.
“There will be little Canada fun facts scattered throughout the grounds, and you have to come find them and get your passport code,” Sampson said, noting the codes are entered into a passport picked up at the info booth. “Once the passport is filled, you bring it back, and your name will be entered into a draw for a cash prize.”
The festival over the past couple of years has had a Logger Sports focus. Sampson said that event would be reduced this year due to being unable to find a sponsor for the competition.
“We’re going to be doing family interactive Logger Sports,” she said. “Our Logger Sports specialist Kat Spencer will be teaching kids how to do log rolling, kid’s axe throw, and a kid’s nail pound. Teenagers can do cross cut sawing.”
Sunday will feature the Midway for a final day and the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation run.
Despite having what she referred to as an extremely lean budget, Sampson is grateful for sponsorship for Festival Days and has put together w wide-variety of activities.
“With what’s going on in the economy, sponsorship has been up by close to $3000 this year,” she said. “We’re so thankful. We have a lot of community groups coming into the pavilion, which is wonderful. We’re just really grateful for the support the community has shown.”
Sampson realizes the elephant in the room is the disappointment many in the community had with the 2016 festival and that largely was due to not being able to secure the Midway.
“It threw the committee for such a huge loop,” she said. “We scrambled for something to fill that [void]. We came up with the Bouncy Castle idea. There just wasn’t a whole lot that we could do to compensate for a Midway.”
With a year of firsts behind them and lessons learned in the process, Sampson and the Morinville Festival Society are confident they have a winner for the residents and visitors to the community this time around.
“We really hope that the community will back this community event because we put this on for the community,” she said.
Admission to the Festival Days grounds is $5 for the entire weekend.
Festival Days runs June 16 to 18.
EDITOR’S NOTE: After our article was published and went to press, the Festival Society advised us of a change in Midway rates and times:
“The Midway does 4 hours wristbands for $30.00 on Friday, 5 – 10 pm; Saturday from 1-5 pm & again from 6 – 10 pm; Sunday 1 – 5 pm. This does not include gate admission. We also cannot pre-sell the wristbands, as it is now part of the midways pricing.”