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Banff Winter Festival still alive

While there is much talk the historic Banff Winter Festival may be dead in the water, Banff council wants to do its part to help some long-standing events survive under the festival’s umbrella.

While there is much talk the historic Banff Winter Festival may be dead in the water, Banff council wants to do its part to help some long-standing events survive under the festival’s umbrella.

On Monday (April 11), council was given a report outlining administration’s plans to continue to support the Mountain Madness and Loppet relays through advertising and co-ordination.

Community Services Manager Mary Brewster said the Town would also advertise other events, such as the Jon Whyte Spelling Bee and the Cardboard Sled Derby.

“We’re assuming the status quo,” she said. “We would probably advertise these on the Town page and ask for any new additions.”

The 2011 Winter Festival was made up of seven events held throughout the week of Jan. 23-29, with the majority continuing to be long-standing events.

The 10-day event started in 1917 with a $500 grant from the federal government, with Canadian Pacific scheduling trains from Vancouver, Winnipeg and Calgary to bring in tourists.

But the event’s future is uncertain, particularly given there is no organizing committee and participation in some events in recent years has been waning.

This year, however, saw a jump in the number of competitors, including 185 in the Mountain Madness relay, 166 in the Lake Louise Loppet and 80 in the Jon Whyte Spelling Bee.

Meanwhile, Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association is calling on the Town to approach Banff Lake Louise Tourism to build and establish a new carnival in February, along the lines of ‘Jasper in January’.

Mayor Karen Sorensen said this topic is being discussed by the new Destination Competitive Initiative – a joint panel involving the tourism industry trying to find ways to draw more tourists.

“The topic of a winter festival is being talked about very generically,” she said.

The Destination Competitive Initiative will meet regularly over the coming three months to deliver a final report and a summary of recommendations during the summer.


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