YORKTON - A new event may soon be lighting up the Christmas season in Yorkton.
The Yorkton Lions Club is working toward a Festival of Lights in the city and Monday club representative Kellsey Popowich appeared before the regular meeting of Yorkton Council to gain their support.
“Imagine a chilly December evening in Yorkton, where the Yorkton City Campground transforms into a magical, twinkling wonderland. As families drive through the enchanting route, they're greeted by whimsical light displays, each sparking joy and holiday cheer. This is not just a vision, but a viable project awaiting our initiative - The Yorkton Lions Festival of Lights. Modeled after the highly successful Enchanted Forest in Saskatoon, our event aims not only to instill a sense of community and joy but also to contribute significantly to local charitable causes,” began Popowich.
The project would be a multi-faceted one in terms of community impact, starting with getting people involved.
“A drive-thru light festival offers an accessible and delightful experience for families and individuals. It's an occasion for us to foster community spirit and provide a slice of enchantment during the winter season,” said Popowich.
Certainly the Saskatoon festival has been hugely popular.
In the 2020-2021 season, the Saskatoon Enchanted Forest saw its highest attendance on record with 91,995 visitors, far surpassing the previous high attendance record of 80,520, from 2018-19, said Popowich.
“These figures demonstrate the growing popularity,” she added.
The success and community engagement seen in Saskatoon could serve as a robust model, continued Popowich.
There is an economic side too, she said, noting by attracting visitors, the event can have a positive economic impact on local businesses.
It creates community profile as well.
“The festival will serve as a platform to promote Yorkton as a vibrant community-oriented city,” said Popowich.
And it would be a fundraiser for the Lions to use in support of community projects.
“The funds raised through ticket sales, sponsorships, and donations will support local charities and initiatives, thereby directly contributing to the betterment of our community,” said Popowich.
In making the presentation Monday the Lions were seeking council’s approval and sponsorship for access to the campground, electricity to the campsites and snow removal of the roads in and to the campground for a period in late November through to early January.
“Together, we have the potential to create a memorable winter tradition in Yorkton,” said Popowich. “... The Yorkton Lions Festival of Lights is more than an event; it's an opportunity for us to foster community engagement, promote our beautiful city, and support local causes.”
Councillor Quinn Haider had several questions for Popowich including ensuring the Lions had insurance, and confirming how long an agreement was being sought.
While Popowich said they had been looking at a 10-year agreement, Council would eventually opt for five years, but renewed on an annual basis as they assessed city-incurred costs.
Haider also noted while the city would undertake to clear roads equipment would be diverted to street clearing when needed.
Still Council was generally enthusiastic.
“We’re definitely all behind it,” said. Coun. Chris Wyatt, adding any reticence was simply doing due diligence.
Mayor Mitch Hippsley agreed, adding he hoped the Lions were “getting the right vibe” that Council was supportive.
While exact details still needed to be confirmed – even the Lions have one more meeting before launching this year – Council did pass a motion unanimously in support of what was generally requested.