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Yuletide Festival showed significant growth; activities for everyone

Learning from the first year, organizers of the second annual Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival are happy with the phenomenal success
The intricate and detailed Toy Shop won the Gingerbread House making contest for Sir Lancelot Signs at the Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival Saturday afternoon. This was the second year in a row they won. With their entry are

Learning from the first year, organizers of the second annual Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival are happy with the phenomenal success of their event last Friday and Saturday.

It was the work of many volunteers and a community which embraced the vision. “First and foremost, what we tried to do was create a festival, a free community event, and we succeeded,” reflected 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.

This year, volunteers were heartened by community interest. After the success of last year’s event, their vision was readily supported by everyone they asked to be involved.

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 to be significantly higher than the $12,256 turned over last year.

Everybody on the organizing committee did yeoman’s service, meeting ever since the last event to plan 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 was a community event, enthusiastically embraced by various individuals, organizations and businesses.

They all understood the vision and participated in making the second event even more successful than the first.

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

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. It was capped this year with two performances by Jazz Explosion near the end of the event.

Sylvan Lake Figure Skating Club put on a Spirit of Christmas performance.

Peewee AA and Bantam A teams played home games Friday evening, with a puck toss between periods of each game, and a novice 3-on-3 Yuletide Hockey Classic was played Saturday morning.

Public skating and Skate With the Mascots were enjoyed. Mascots included Grizz and Peanut from Global Pet Foods, Wooly Bully from Red Deer Rebels, Sparky from Sylvan Lake Fire Department, Harvey the Hound from Calgary Flames, and the Liberty Tax star.

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 inflatables.

New this year were Learn to Curl and mini curling game sessions at the curling rink.

Ornaments were produced this year and sold well.

Four teams competed in the gingerbread house making contest with Sir Lancelot Signs (Christopher, Kennedy, Matasha and Monty Lanciault, Shane Mooney and Lily Walroth) capturing the top prize for the second year in a row. The other teams were Cast Away Sports (Petrea Burgar and Andrea Gulayets), Team DQ (Chris, Pam, Jayden and Janelle Mitchell) and the Barn Stars (Chelsea Miki, Kirstin Simpson and David McGill).

The raffle table, silent and live auctions all proved popular while some bidders during the live auction got real bargains.

The draw for a $1,000 Banff getaway was won by Mary Ann Bojda. Jodi Johanson won the Trunk of Spirits.

Attendance at the festival Friday afternoon and Saturday was significantly higher than the first year, thanks in part to wider publicity and more people knowing what the event was all about.

The first year was organized on a shoestring budget while this year more effort was put into attracting people to experience the festival and all it’s different components.

The talents of many people were again relied on to create and refurbish decorations which added so much to the atmosphere of the event.

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

Committee members will be meeting shortly 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 or website.