Editorial on Winter Festivals

The editorial for Mar. 3 discusses the many festivals in the Elk Valley that keep the communities buzzing.

While winter does bring social interaction for many communities like the one we live in, festivals focus on community growth. Skiing and hockey keep people active but can be exclusive; festivals are inclusive and often feature events that cater to demographics of varying age, ability and interest.

Group activities are the underlying cornerstone of festivals. Creating interactions that make the darkest winter days bright, cheery and lively.  Festivals like Fernie’s Griz Days, Elkford’s Winter in the Wild, and this year’s events for Sparwood’s 50th anniversary add a welcomed spark to our winters. Igniting the instinctual need for human interaction, which furthers cultural progression.

Culture is built by the community. A festival is simply a tool that allows for cultural evolution by having the community in one place and having them interacting with each other. Fernie’s Griz Days bring long time residents and seasonal residents together as one community.

Whether we have worked at the mine for years, are retired or are spending a season slashing snow, we are a community and we are evolving our culture.

Deep within the depths of winter our behaviour changes, often we find ourselves sleeping more, eating more, and being less active. Regardless of our lifestyles and technological advancements, we still succumb to the seasons. It was not long ago in the evolutionary chain that seasons dictated our behaviours.

Even in 19th century France, small towns would fall silent between fall and spring, hiding almost all signs of human life but small smoke spirals sent from stoked fires. Villagers shut themselves away and did virtually nothing over the winter months. Around the same era, Russian peasants would wake up daily to eat bread and drink water then return to their slumber taking turns feeding the fire.

I come from an agricultural town that hibernates from mid December to mid March. I believe that while the winter provides many activities to the Elk Valley, winter festivals and group events are what really keep the community going.

Festivals feed the fire, waking us from our hibernation and stirring us from our dwellings.

I am looking forward to covering Griz Days and upcoming Sparwood 50 year anniversary events and to see so much of the public break from the hypnotic hibernation that winter creates as they come out and participate in the community much like they have at other festivals like Elkford’s Winter in the Wild or the Family Fishing Fun Derby.