This year’s Hot Dog Day was celebrated virtually. Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

Exciting online initiatives keep locals amused

Virtual concerts, parties, quiz nights and contests ensure Elk Valley residents stay entertained

Though inhabitants of the world are confined inside the walls of their homes, Elk Valley residents have devised a number of creative and entertaining ways to stay social and keep entertained while in isolation.

One of the most popular online events are Saturday Quarantine Socials, hosted by local musicians RedGirl and Shred Kelly in conjunction with the Fernie Legion. What started out as a Saturday night concert on March 21 to replace the Fernie Stoke Fest, ended up turning into a weekly event. Every Saturday, the Quarantine Socials give locals the opportunity to virtually hang out together over wicked live music and tantalizing trivia.

“As musicians, speaking for Anie and I, we play because we love music, but also there is a big part of it that builds community,” said Michael Hepher from RedGirl. “People gather around music as a social meeting point, but also it is something that brings life and joy. To hear a beautiful song or inspiring band or simply to dance freely…these are things that tie us together with the rest of humanity. When we don’t have those things, it’s our natural instinct to want to share.”

The festivities begin from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. with a live happy hour Facebook concert followed by a DJ dance party hour. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., viewers can look forward to a live performance from Shred Kelly featuring guests, and then the evening culminates with hours of trivia fun organized by Jade Fahie.

This past week, the Happy Hour show was put on by talented banjo strumming and guitar playing duo, The Parsons. Social Quiznessing was also a hit, with Fahie convincing all 22 participating teams to create a funny hand washing song and video to be posted in their Facebook group for points.

“The socials are something we look forward to weekly and a great way to bring the community together online. We’ve seen people have Zoom parties during the show, and people engaging worldwide with past connections to Fernie. It is a great way to check in weekly with our community and share some positivity during these uncertain times,” said Sage McBride from Shred Kelly.

To keep things fresh, Saturday Quarantine Socials feature different musicians and DJ’s each week. For anyone who would like to be featured as a local personality or musical act, contact the conveners at or Tipping musicians after the show is also encouraged, as audiences can do so via the artist’s personal websites. To join in on the festivities, search the Saturday Quarantine Socials group on Facebook.

“We are isolating ourselves but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still a community. We need to check in to continue to feel like the sacrifices we’re making are worth making because we can see the impact they are having. It would be too easy to forget the reason why we’re all making this collective decision to protect the vulnerable people in our community, unless we have these touchstones to remind ourselves about our neighbours and friends and give each other a bit of hope that we can do this together (but apart),” said Hepher. “Musicians, and frankly artists of all kinds, have always been great catalysts for this sort of thing. When society is reeling or can’t find the words for their feelings, the artists are good at finding ways to help us feel part of something bigger and give us ropes to cling to when we are feeling a bit lost.”

Also created by McBride as a sort of calendar of events, is the Facebook group Stream Fernie. There, community members can share events, online groups, and fitness classes to keep morale high. With over 420 members, the group is a great place to get connected with fellow locals and stay in the loop with various exciting online events occurring throughout the Elk Valley.

Another heartwarming Facebook group created to spread light during these trying times is the Elk Valley Covers for Comfort group. In an effort to feature local musical talent, the group’s feed is full of brilliant local musicians, both young and old, covering a wild variety of songs in various genres ranging from music by The Distillers, to tunes by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Any of the 625 group members can request songs they would like to have covered as the local artists record and post the requests along with words of encouragement to spread love throughout the community.

“I started the group as a way to connect people through music as a distraction while we are all at home. Having hosted Elk Valleys Got Talent through Coal Miner Days in the past, I knew we have some amazing talent that needs to be shared, and this is a great way to do it,” said Marcia Johnson, host of the page. “This group gives people who might be hesitant to take a typical stage the opportunity to share in a safe, loving community of like minded people. Now we have members from all around the globe who will take requests for listeners as well as people who are joining in writing songs together. In the near future, we plan on hosting a Facebook live concert event with multiple musicians, as well as creating some music videos of our members celebrating the same songs.”

The virtual musical acts do not stop there however, because a closed ski hill did not stop keen locals from donning their brightest retro gear and partying together on Zoom for this year’s unofficial Hot Dog Day celebration. Dubbed “Hot Dog Day goes Hi-Tech” and hosted by The Royal, the event was celebrated on April 1 and had people reveling in their living rooms from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. as a variety of DJ’s graced the live stream including Busy Patters, Freebooter, and CONA.

Not music related but still in on the online fun is the Fernie Youth Action Network, who created a virtual Clothing Swap Party Outfit Challenge. Due to their big April Community Clothing Swap Party being postponed indefinitely, they moved the excitement online. Running from March 30 through till April 15, Eden Amundsen, the Clothing Swap Party organizer, announces an outfit challenge each Monday and Thursday via Instagram. Participants then send a photo of themselves in an outfit that coincides with the announced category. Voting for the best outfit occurs on Tuesdays and Fridays, and winners are announced on the following Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Besides bragging rights, the participants will also be going head to head to receive a number of awards and prizes. The prizes include $50 to Freyja Boutique, $50 to New Moon Goods, and $50 to Commit Snow and Skate. The award recipients will be chosen by guest judges from throughout the community, including the team from Commit Snow and Skate, Chantel Vincent, owner of Freyja Boutique, and Allie Rogers from New Moon Goods.

In order to participate, contestants must follow @fernie_clothingswap and send photos of their outfits through direct message to that account. Contestants are welcome to enter as many of the challenges as they wish.

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