Smaller St. Isidore Carnaval still a possibility

Carnaval de St. Isidore mascot Grand Duck is popular at the francophone cultural event. Annabelle Lavoie, 3, of St. Isidore, middle, gets a close-up look at the mascot from the arms of her mother, Valerie Levesque, in 2020.

In the Jan. 12, 2022 South Peace News a headline was misleading.
While a full-scale St. Isidore Carnival is “unlikely” some events may continue. As the story on page 12 of that issue suggests, a smaller event may include snow sculpturing.
Carnaval organizers are currently considering options moving forward as the scheduled date of the event Feb. 18-20 nears and will make announcements to inform the public.
South Peace News apologizes for any confusion caused.

The popular Carnaval de St. Isidore planned for Feb. 18-20 has been cancelled over increased COVID-19 cases and growing concern of the Omicron variant.
A full-scale event based at the St. Isidore Cultural Centre was called off by the organizing Society of the Cultural Community Centre.
“With this new COVID wave, it is unlikely that an event of scale will take place in February,” says Rachelle Bergeron, a member of the organizing committee.
“However, we are not totally ruling out holding a last-minute small event like a snow-sculpting competition.”
Last year under gathering restrictions, a snow sculpture competition was held to keep the spirit of the 39th annual carnaval alive.
She says organizers have many challenges to host an event that is safe for everyone.
“There are just too many uncertainties with restrictions changing and also the complication of running an REP [Restrictions Exemption Program] as a volunteer organization,” Bergeron says.
“We considered having a limited event with mostly outdoor activities with some of the carnaval ‘musts’ such as snow taffy, poutine and snow sculpting during the day and entertainment in the gazebo with the REP.”
Organizers trust they will be allowed to host a complete carnaval in 2023.
“We just have to wait and hope for the best for the future of the carnaval,” Bergeron says.
When the last full-scale francophone festival was held in February 2020 and the temperature hovered around -22C, attendance was down from 2019.
Winter activities, entertainment, outdoor fun, horse-drawn sleigh rides have been the main activities at the carnaval.
“Snow sculptures, competitions, shows, maple taffy and new games were the big highlights for the crowds,” says Bergeron.
An important part of the festival success is the annual King and Queen competition as female and male high school students contend for royalty.
Organizers are optimistic about the future of the event that has grown more popular.
“The Carnaval has built an amazing reputation over the years with it’s unique francophone culture and community-based programming,” Bergeron says.
The successful formula of music, dance, art, theatre, plus great winter activities and fun competitions appeal to people of all ages”
She says the carnaval includes influences from beyond St. Isidore as organizers invite schools and youth from all over the Peace region to take part, as well as artists from all over Alberta.

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