Comfort food, culture and community. These three Cs define what Morinville’s Festival Days is about. In a nutshell, it’s a celebration of life and, this year following the pandemic’s two-year hiatus, it returns in-person with gusto and pride.
Running June 17 to 19, it draws several thousand visitors from numerous border communities. It features a midway, pancake breakfast, obstacle course, firefighter combat challenge, hot sauce competition, art sale and two-day farmer’s market.
“This is very much a community driven initiative. Many of our events are planned by volunteers. We’re being mindful of local talent and we’re providing a platform for them. Right now, the feedback is positive, especially within the music community. Local service groups are supporting the event and the town is providing critical infrastructure that will make sure we are anchored and able to provide these events,” said Teena Hughson, Town of Morinville community engagement and partnership specialist.
New this year is the inaugural Indigenous Arts Showcase, with international champion hoop dancer Dallas Arcand headlining the program. Cree singer Conan Yellowbird as well as singer-songwriter duo Miqeal and Jace Bourque are also on the bill.
“We are delighted to connect with Dallas and are exceptionally pleased he wanted to volunteer. We have a significant Indigenous population and strong ties with Alexander First Nation. We thought this would be a proper way to celebrate the culture and elevate the festival,” Hughson said.
Although the showcase is still in the development process, Hughson is encouraging a wide range of Indigenous artists to contact her if they wish to showcase their performance art, visual art, artisanal skills such as beading or any form of creative expression.
The heart of every summer festival is the carnival atmosphere of a midway. Wild Rose Shows returns to the three-day event at the Morinville Leisure Centre boasting adrenaline-pumping rides such as Spider, Scrambler, Dragon Coaster, Helicopters and Tilt-a-Whirl.
Friday, June 17
Friday opens featuring a heritage exhibit at Musée Morinville Museum. Meanwhile at Morinville Community Cultural Centre (MCCC) a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Celebration takes place in the afternoon from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Immediately following the refgal recognition, MCCC hosts a free screening of Encanto at 7 p.m. Encanto is the 2021 award-winning computer-animated musical fantasy created by Walt Disney Animation Studios. On the surface the plot follows the lives of the Madrigal family hiding in a magical realm. However, the subtext focuses on the importance of family and accepting everyone for who they are.
Saturday, June 18
The family fun outdoes itself Saturday as festival events run non-stop from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. MCCC opens its doors at 5 a.m. as visual artists from the Morinville Arts Club gather for a sunrise to sunset vigil creating and selling artistic pieces.
The NAPA Show n’ Shine revs up its engine in support of the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation at 6:30 a.m. and the Mayor and Council Pancake Breakfast serves a free, hearty meal from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Over at Ray McDonald Sports Centre, Edmonton Garrison soldiers will organize an outdoor kid-friendly obstacle course along with a military vehicle display. Inside the centre, a series of artists will hold court including acrobat Lynn Gosselin, balloon artist Clown Mingle, country singer Ryan Snow and jazz performer Roya.
“We’re open to more performers. Some of the feedback we’ve had in the past indicated people wanted to see more stage shows and roving entertainment.”
The popular Hot Sauce Competition burns its way through taste buds also at the sports centre from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. And the Morinville Farmers’ Market just down the street at the Rendezvous Centre is open both Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
The traditional firefighter combat challenge displaying mental and physical strength takes place 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Leisure Centre while the Indigenous Arts Showcase kicks off at MCCC at 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 19
Anyone who enjoys the morning’s fresh air is invited to Break Free, a 5 km and 10 km walk and run. It is hosted by the Jessica Martel Foundation in support of Jessie’s House, a refuge for families living with violence. It is held at the Morinville Fish & Game Pond. Registration is at 8 a.m.
If kids are pumped with adrenaline, the Sunday Family Zone at Lions Park showcasing inflatables and crafts is a great way to burn off energy from noon until 4 p.m.
Although the festival is enjoyed primarily by humans, Morinville Veterinary Clinic is holding the Empty Bowl Pet Supply Foodraiser at Lion’s Park in conjunction with the Sunday Family Zone.
“It’s a fundraiser to collect pet food for families in need caring for pets. As an incentive for each donation of pet food, you will receive a complimentary nail clipping for your dogs.”
Aware of the high cost of food, the Morinville Legion is raffling off a package of meat containing various types. Tickets are $1 each. Sales run 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Morinville’s latest population survey hit 11,000 residents.
“Festival Days past attendance reached 5,000. We have people coming from outside Morinville – Cardiff, Calahoo, Bon Accord, Gibbons, Legal, the Garrison and even St. Albert. With the return of events, we’re anticipating a larger crowd. We’re planning for 7,500 visitors.”
Discounted wristbands for all-day midway rides are $35 at Morinville Town Hall, MCCC or the Leisure Centre. Advance sales end June 15 at noon. Afterwards, wristbands will be $40. For complete festival information visit www.morinville.ca.