CANMORE— A flurry of activity will be blowing into Canmore with the return of the annual Winter Carnival.
The Winter Carnival is “an action-packed weekend” from Feb. 28 to March 1 that has fun activities for the entire family, said Town of Canmore supervisor of arts and events Chris Bartolomie.
“It’s a good time to come out of hibernation and get together as a community and celebrate winter,” Bartolomie said, adding that the carnival features ice carving and dog sledding competitions.
The Town partners with Snowy Owl Dog Sled Tours to host the Snowy Owl Kid N Mutt races on March 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bartolomie said she appreciates the volunteer work the organization puts into making sure it is a successful, safe and fun event for the community.
“It is quite a fun event,” she said. “Snowy Owl made the best little sleds for them [participants].”
Carlin Kimble, co-owner of Snowy Owl Dog Sled Tours, said they have been serving as volunteer hosts for the kid and mutt races since the early 1980s.
The races developed as a way to get the kids involved in something unique in the Bow Valley, she said, while bringing the community closer together.
“It's exciting, it really gets people engaged and eager to watch it,” Kimble said. “It’s very funny because you’re seeing tiny little kids just getting ripped down to the end of the track.”
Snowy Owl provides its skilled four-legged athletes for the races, she said, because the professional sled dogs aid in giving racers a competitive edge in comparison to house pets.
The key to success though, Kimble said, is racers working with the dogs and encouraging them to give their all on race day. She explained that the dogs need to know they are important and valued members of the team.
“We want our racers to talk to the dogs, and handle the dogs and work with the dogs the same way we do,” Kimble said. “That creates a nice relationship between the racer and the dog and it gives them the opportunity to get a little more personal with the dogs.”
The race is "super cute" and for most kids, it is a unique and new experience. Although, Kimble added with a laugh there are kids they see every year at the races.
“The dogs know the kids are having a good time,” she said. “Encouraging, supporting and loving the dogs is all part of being a good team— the dogs work harder for you if you are treating them that way.”
Ensuring that Canmore’s furry non-working friends can participate in the festivities, The annual Mutt Hutt Emporium Pooch Parade Saturday (Feb. 29) at 1 p.m.
Dogs and owners will be dressing up in the latest winter fashions celebrating the theme of this year's Winter Carnival “Play.”
Everyone will be embracing the theme, Bartolomie added, explaining that different activities will be working to incorporate the idea of play.
“It will be awesome,” Bartolomie said. “Ice carvers will be doing things that resemble play and the mutts will be dressing in playful outfits.”
The theme of "play" was chosen for this year's carnival because it is a celebration of what makes experiencing winter in Canmore great.
“We get outdoors and try and play and do things,” she said. “When it snows you celebrate— it’s playful and fun that’s what we want to get across that everybody can play.”
The carnival will feature around eight ice carvers from the Bow Valley and Calgary she said located in front of the civic centre.
The Winter Carnival events kick off Friday (Feb. 28) at 4:30 p.m. at Canmore’s Civic Centre and will have giant games like Twister and Jenga paired with music, hot chocolate and winter activities including kids ice carving and log sawing.
The log sawing is always a fun event she added because teams of two band together to see who can cut wood the fastest in a game of working together as opposed to brute strength.
“It’s a bit challenging because you really have to be in rhythm with your partner… you don’t have to be the strongest person to win that event you just need to be a good team,” she said. “If one of you is zigging and the other one is zagging it’s not really going to work out—the quicker you get into a rhythm the better your time is going to be.”
Saturday (Feb. 29) begins at the Canmore Civic Centre with an ice carving competition beginning at 9 a.m. that runs until 5 p.m. The winner is announced at the end of the day.
The weekend draws to an end on Sunday (March 1) with Fun at the Pond where guests can partake in human curling, music, snow volleyball and bonfires.
For those brave of heart, Bartolomie recommends rolling up one's sleeves and diving face-first into the Beavertail eating contest that runs at noon, 2 p.m. and 3. The event can get a little messy as one's hands are tied behind their back as they race to eat a Beavertail hanging on a clothesline the fastest.
“It’s like kids from a birthday party,” Bartolomie said with a laugh. “Except its usually adults.”