The Elk Valley Riders participated in the annual Coal Miner Days parade. Ezra Black/The Free Press

Plenty of fun was had at Coal Miner Days 2017

Thousands celebrated Sparwood during Coal Miner Days 2017.

On Saturday, the unofficial start of the festival began with the annual Sparwood Lions Club pancake breakfast. The proceeds from the breakfast went to fund a shelter project at the recreation centre.

At 11 a.m. the Coal Miner Days Parade set off from the Overwaitea parking lot for a tour of the town. The parade featured dozens of community groups including the Cranbrook Bugle Band, the Elk Valley Riders and their horses.

The cast of the Sparwood Secondary School production of Twelfth Night was there as were Elk Valley’s Got Talent winners Krysten Johnson and one-man-band Dr. Erik Thorlakson who both played beautifully.

After the parade, adults were enjoying a beer garden and slo pitch tournament while kids and families were having fun at the annual Kidsfest by the Sparwood Recreation Centre.

The event featured bounce houses, face painting and airbrush tattoos. The community climbing wall was also open.

Elk Valley’s Got Talent participant Robin Hansom and her ukulele were performing to the delight of many.

“It’s pretty nice here and I enjoy the festivities,” she said. “I didn’t make it to the finals but it was still pretty fun. Maybe next year.”

Vegetable vendor Charlie deBoer took part in a street market. All his produce was grown in a greenhouse in Redcliff, Alberta, he said.

“It was all picked this week so it’s fresh, fresh,” said deBoer.

Another big draw was a petting zoo that featured four rabbits, four lambs, two pigs and a whole bunch of goats.

“I just love animals and I love being outside,” said petting zoo operator Katy Nedeljaklva. “And I’m so glad I’m here.”

This year’s festival featured three new food trucks. These vendors were a fixture on the recreation centre grounds, vital to the culture of the event.

There was Smokey Bros from Cranbrook serving up burgers, ribs and their famous bacon cheddar smokies. There was also the Saucy Sombrero from Fernie, which served authentic Mexican food.

Not to be outdone was the Rocky Mountain Gut Truck from Crowsnest Pass.

The Gut Truck serves homemade burgers, poutine and more. It sets up shop in Sparwood on Mondays and Wednesdays. Owners John Casey and Deanna Levavasour have applied for a permit to operate in Fernie.

They launched their business last year and named it ‘Gut Truck’ because it was, “something quirky to go with our quirky menu,” said Levavasour.

“It’s going really well,” she said of her venture. “The people of Sparwood are amazing. It’s really nice to be here and have our food loved by people.”

In a nod to Levavasour’s New Zealand roots, the Gut Truck offers a Kiwi Burger with toppings that include a slice of pineapple, beets and a fried egg.

“Basically we add fried eggs to everything we eat,” she said. “It’s just a Kiwi thing.”

In another nod to Casey’s Scottish heritage, the Gut Truck also serves up a Scottish Burger that has all the fixings of a regular burger plus a slice of beer battered haggis.

“I found out there was a Scottish butcher in Calgary,” said Casey. “So I thought I would bring a little bit of Scotland to this part of Canada. It’s gone over really well.”

Saturday ended with many locals dancing the night away at the Coal Miner Days Cabaret. DJ services were provided by Pez Productions out of Calgary.


Three-year-old Addyson Pavlis played in a bouncy castle. Ezra Black/The Free Press

Jace Elliott knocked one out of the park during the slo pitch tournament. Ezra Black/The Free Press

Avaiya Bourgeois played in the Butterfield Acres petting zoo. Ezra Black/The Free Press

Kyrsten Johnson performed in Elk Valley’s Got Talent and won in the youth category. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press