An effort is underway to move Sicamous’ popular Snow Fest to Salmon Arm.
Tammy Chopick-Chouinard and Travis Stewart were at City of Salmon Arm council chambers Monday, Dec. 10, to request financial support to hold the event – a weekend of snowbike races, snowmobiling and more –at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds in February.
“This isn’t really a new idea, it’s just a different venue for us,” explained Chopick-Chouinard, noting the family-oriented event would see attendance of about 6,000 to 10,000 people.
“The Sicamous event is huge but Sicamous is a little smaller and we just don’t have enough hotel rooms, and most of our people actually do stay in Salmon Arm so we would like to hold it here just to give us more opportunity.”
Last year was the 2nd annual Ripped Snow Fest, hosted by Sledgehammers Apparel and the District of Sicamous. Difficult weather conditions required the two-day event be reduced to one.
Sicamous operations manager Joe McCulloch explained it’s a very difficult event to do within district boundaries and with the weather being so unpredictable. Because of that, he said a choice was made to move the event into the mountains and plan to build a more sustainable track.
“At that point, we will 100 per cent be bringing a track race back to Sicamous and I am sure that Sledgehammers and the sled clubs will all have involvement,” said McCulloch, who wished the event and Sledgehammers all the best in Salmon Arm.
Stewart and Chopick-Chouinard, who are not directly affiliated with Sledgehammers but are proponents of the event, asked if Salmon Arm could provide $30,000 to support the event at the fairgrounds, noting Sicamous contributed $22,000 in the past.
“This event costs around $100,000 to pull off,” said Chopick-Chouinard. “Last year we did a two-day event and it was $140,000. So we do need community involvement.”
While council was supportive of the event, the timing of the financial request was cause for concern.
“It’s Dec. 10, 2018, our fiscal year ends in 20 days, we spent all our money, our next budget process starts in January and that wouldn’t be done until pretty close to your event…,” commented Coun. Chad Eliason, noting Roots & Blues, which is going into its 27th year, receives $50,000 from the city. “We do support events, but maybe not all of them. So I just want to temper your expectations of what to expect from the City of Salmon Arm because these things take time.”
Coun. Kevin Flynn was amenable to the off-season event coming to Salmon Arm, but was also concerned with the timing.
“I just feel it’s very rushed and that concerns me because something of this magnitude being rushed – and I know you guys have done it lots and I don’t want to close the door, but I think, the most I can commit to is to try to do all we can to try to help it happen, and then discuss financial in other areas,” said Flynn.
Mayor Alan Harrison said city and council is excited about the event.
“I think we would certainly work through as efficiently as we could any licensing that would be needed,” said Harrison. “We will refer this to the 2019 budget discussions, I think Jan. 7 we’ll be here discussing all of those items.”
After their meeting with council, Stewart and Chopick-Chouinard said if they are unable to receive financial support from the city, they would look at their own budget and consider charging something like an entrance fee.
“We don’t like to do that, we like to have it open to everybody,” said Chopick-Chouinard, adding if a fee is required, passes may be made available for families who might otherwise be unable to afford to attend.