Whitefish Winter Carnival in Whitefish, Montana, February 2013
Sometimes people ask me if I miss certain big-city items, that are not available in a small town like Whitefish, Montana. Like baseball games, football games, and concerts. But what we are lacking in those areas, we make up for by having small town events that only such places as Whitefish can pull off with such fun and style. Like the Whitefish Winter Carnival.
The Whitefish Winter Carnival takes place throughout January and February of each year.
The Carnival starts off with a crowning of “Whitefish Royalty,” along with a Disco Party, followed by the Whitefish Ski Joring World Championship.
The Ski Joring is a fun event that takes place at the Whitefish Municipal Airport just east of Whitefish. There is a $5 dollar parking fee. There are vendors selling food and drinks, and you will watch horses pulling skiers around in a circle flying over jumps. I hope to be a participant in this next year. (I would ski. All I need is a horse!) For some reason the weather hasn’t been cooperative the last few years (snowing!), but it is a great time.
If you are planning a ski vacation, I think you would love to visit Whitefish during the last weekend of the carnival. The “Winter Carnival” weekend is full of events: A Gala Dinner Dance, a Kiddie Carnival, Penguin Plunge, Grand Parade, Blackstar Beer Barter, and Torchlight Parade and Fireworks. The local Rotary club offers an awesome breakfast on Sunday morning at the Moose Lodge from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The last weekend is full of my favorite events. This year, Saturday, February 2nd, was a beautiful day. Blue sky, beautiful sunshine, just the right amount of snow in Whitefish. Sunshine puts a smile on my face, and I woke up particularly excited to start the day.
The day starts off with a Penguin Plunge down at Whitefish Beach on Whitefish Lake. People get in the freezing water to raise money for Special Olympics. A great cause, and a great sight! Thankfully for the participants this year, it was really warm out. Keep in mind, dogs are not allowed on Whitefish Beach, so if you bring them, you will have to stand back. (I brought Frank, but I didn’t care about being close, because I showed up late anyway and it was very crowded.) Arrive early if you want to actually be able to see the people jumping in the lake.
The Grand Parade is one of my favorite events. The theme for 2013 was “Pirates on Parade.” The parade is really for the kids (what parade isn’t?) but there are some awesome, funny choreographed dances to entertain the adults. This year, “Gangnam Style” was particularly popular.
Keep your eye out for the spotted horse, and the lady dressed in spots to match. I also enjoyed the two girls this year, who had a sense of humor by holding a sign that read: “2 Girls With A Sign.”
The weather was just absolutely gorgeous this year! Standing in the sun kept us nice and toasty. My baby girl is still too young to really enjoy the parade, so she sweetly watched and then fell asleep in her stroller on the way back to the car. I am so thankful for the little trooper that she is!
The parade gets extremely crowded. I tend to never stand on Central Avenue in Whitefish, because it is rows of people and you can’t see anything. I stand farther down 2nd Avenue where the parade begins to be sure we can see the floats. This is especially helpful if you have little kids. Also, keep in mind that it is very difficult to find parking! We always get to the parade last-minute (thanks to having a child, we are never on time!), but we have no problem parking 6-10 blocks away. If you show up any later than the start time of the parade, expect to walk. A long way.
We went home to take a break and walk our dogs in the beautiful sun.
While we headed home to give our baby a break, everyone else in town headed for the Black Star Beer Barter. This is a fun event put on by the Great Northern Brewery each year, where they challenge people to “Bring or do something that’s worth a year’s supply of beer to you.” There is only ONE winner. And it gets crowded. This takes place right on Central Avenue after the parade, outside the Great Northern Brewery. It seems like the entire Flathead Valley shows up for this event, a great time to watch people attempting to win.
We then headed up Whitefish Mountain Resort to enjoy the fireworks. Unfortunately, we were so late we did not have time to park. (I recommend arriving early because if you have to park far away, it can take time to walk to the fireworks and torchlight parade.) The torchlight parade is a group of ski instructors and ski patrol that ski down Ed’s Run next to Chair 2, holding red flares that light up the run. All of the night skiing lights are shut off so you can see the lights they are carrying.
After they finish, there is a fireworks show. We had to watch from the car, but it worked out because the fireworks are too loud for our baby anyway.
Events like the Winter Carnival really bring the community together and give everyone a great chance to get out in the colder weather to socialize. If you happen to be in town during this time, you should check out some of the events!
More information found here: http://www.whitefishwintercarnival.com/
Warmest Wishes from Big Sky Country,
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