First Yuletide Festival deemed a tremendous success, activities for everyone

Deemed a phenomenal success in every area, the first ever Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival was the work of many volunteers

When curly haired Leah Schalkwyk was hesitant to jump up onto Santa’s knee at the Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival

Deemed a phenomenal success in every area, the first ever Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival was the work of many volunteers and a community which caught the vision.

“First and foremost what we tried to do was create a festival, a free community event, and we succeeded,” said committee chairman Graham Parsons. “Right from the start everybody had the same vision.”

“A special event at a special time for a special cause in a special community,” is how Parsons summed up the festival.

Money raised through the event is being donated to the town’s Urgent Care initiative and will be held in trust for purchase of equipment when the centre becomes a reality. Parsons expected the amount will be in excess of $10,000.

Everybody on the organizing committee did yeoman’s service, meeting for over a year to plan the event and then participating in the “sprint to the finish” as the hours counted down to the event.

“Far too much attention has focused on me,” said Parsons. “We all created the idea as a team. Ideas flowed from the committee and were transformed into action.”

Many others joined along the journey and helped in a variety of ways. There were just too many people involved in the festival’s success to start naming names, said Parsons.

Suffice it to say it truly became a community event, enthusiastically embraced by various individuals, organizations and businesses.

They all understood the vision and participated in making the first event the success it was.

“Community reaction was most gratifying to all the committee members.”

Parsons said many of the people on the committee didn’t know each other before getting involved. But they came together as a group.

A big part of the event’s success was participation of the Farmers’ Market which brought in over 50 vendors who were interspersed among the decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and other auction items.

Entertainment was what the committee envisioned — local choirs and entertainers. Sylvan Lake Figure Skating Club put on several performances and a Dynamite hockey mini-tournament attracted involvement from a number of families. Public skating and the Skate With the Mascots were also enjoyed.

The Kids Zones were well used by youngsters who showed their crafty sides or got rid of some of their excess energy in the bouncy toys.

Three teams competed in the gingerbread house making contest with Sir Lancelot Signs capturing the top prize. The other teams were from Servus Credit Union and the Matthew 5:16 team. It was a difficult decision, said judges.

The raffle table, silent and live auctions all proved popular.

The draw for a $1,200 travel vouncher was won by Betty O’Rourke.

Parsons estimated that several thousand people visited the festival which ran Friday afternoon and evening and all day Saturday.

“We did the whole thing on such a shoestring budget,” said Parsons. That meant the talents of many people were used to create all the decorations which added so much to the atmosphere.

“There was an incredible amount of detail from what we started off with,” he said.

“Now we’ve already got momentum, it’s phenomenal, everyone did such a great job.”

Committee members are meeting next week to discuss the event and begin planning for next year.

If you’re interested in getting involved, contact Parsons at 403-887-2575 or check the group’s Facebook page.

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