The attached photo is a picture taken in winter 1971-72 showing one of the entries in the snow and ice sculptures contest was held at the Golden Secondary School. Golden Museum and Archives

Turning back the pages: Winter festivals

As far back as Golden’s history is recorded, we have played host to almost every kind of winter festival known to man. Many were probably created by cabin fever and were only celebrated once and then dropped for various reasons.

January was the most popular month for these things to take place and they ranged from ice carnivals, where all the skaters dressed in costume, to dog races sponsored by the Golden Kennel Club.

They all, unfortunately, lacked the same ingredient: something that still affects events of this kind today – a good volunteer base.

February of 1899 saw the first Masquerade Carnival held in the Golden Curling Rink. A great deal of time was spent on the preparation of the costumes for this event, which continued for many years to be very popular. Those in costume paid nothing to get in, while those in street clothes paid 25 cents.

This first masquerade carnival attracted 75 skaters in costume, a good turnout even by today’s standard.

Two judges were brought in from Calgary to allow for complete neutrality. The entrants were judges in the following categories; best ladies’, best gentlemen’s, best boys’, best girls,’ best comic, and best historical. Prizes were awarded to first and second in each of the categories.

The ice was held open until a set hour for the masquerade carnival, and when that hour was reached, the judges reached their decision, and the Calgary Band started to play music at intervals throughout the rest of the evening, while the ice was opened to all who wanted to skate.

At the close of the rink most of the people who had attended adjourned to the Columbia Hall where an impromptu dance was usually struck up.

This event was so popular that the ladies used to work on their costumes a year in advance.

It must have been quite the sight. Some entrants in that first year were Mr. and Mrs. Wood – Jack and Jill; J. Henderson – Klondike or Bust; Walter Houston – Satan’s Kid; Miss Jennie Wells – Joan of Arc; Hattie Rutherford – Red Riding Hood; Ralph Kenny – Clown and Bert Chipman and George Mitchell – Citizens of Calgary.

Another of the events that proved to be very popular with the townspeople were the annual dog races. Held in January, children and adults alike trained their dogs throughout the year for this one event.

They had a 200-yard dash on an open course, with a dog hitched to a sleigh in which the driver sat, and a 100-yard-and-return race in which the dog ran the 100 yards with his master in the sleigh, and then turned and ran back to the finish line. Many of the drivers were dumped out when the dog made the turn and never had the opportunity to get back in as their dogs ran for the line.

Like most of the events of the day, the races culminated in a family dance. Most of these families lived out of town and didn’t start back home in their sleighs until 2 or 3 a.m., arriving just in time to start the morning chores. These events were always held so that the whole family could attend.

Already in the planning stages for 2020 is the Snow King’s MasqueParade, which is entering its 14th year. We are so fortunate to have so many people involved who know how to lure the creatures from the forest to spend the evening with us and as you can imagine, it takes a lot of people to pull this off. Do you have some time to spare beginning January 18? Even a few hours a week would be a great help.

If you do, please go to https://kickinghorseculture.ca/2019/11/19/masqueparade-in-your-life/ and fill out the form.

If you don’t have time to volunteer, then prepare to come on the evening of the event and take part in the magic that has been created.

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