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And what a year it has been! As this article is going to print, the Events Wood Buffalo (EWB) team is all hands on deck getting ready for this year’s Legacy Dodge Santa Claus Parade. We’re so excited for the event that rings in the holiday season in the Wood Buffalo region, even though it’s hard to believe that the year is coming to a close so quickly! From winterPLAY to interPLAY, 2013 has been a year for the books.

2013 started with a bang, literally, with the Opening Ceremony of the Syncrude winterPLAY Festival. The 10-day celebrations kicked off on February 14 with the Lover’s Fireworks, a spectacular pyrotechnics show choreographed to music. Over 18,000 people braved the winter weather and enjoyed themselves at the festival that embraces our climate, culture and region. The annual Sno-Pitch tournament – that’s right, slow-pitch in the snow – had a great turn out at the Syncrude Athletic Park, and the Enbridge Shootout on the Snye boasted the highest number of teams ever! Not only were the outdoor activities a huge success, the indoor events filled to capacity almost every night, particularly at the Winter Side Splitter Comedy Night, The Irish Descendants, and winterCABARET, featuring Sweet Soul Burlesque & The Beauties.

After winterPLAY, EWB partnered with the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 165 in Waterways to bring The Navigators from the rocky shores of Newfoundland to Fort McMurray to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. Concertgoers enjoyed an Irish-themed dinner, and the band brought their energetic and unpredictable stage presence to a packed house.

In May, EWB seized the opportunity to get involved with a fantastic event, the screening of the documentary, Oil Sands Karaoke. Profiling five Fort McMurray residents unleashing their inner rock stars at a karaoke contest, the film hit the big screen at the Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre on May 13. The appreciative audience cheered on the actors and filmmakers, along with special guest Mayor Melissa Blake, at an exclusive and intimate Q&A after the premiere.

The EWB team kept the party going throughout the summer with the YMM Canada Day Festival and the TransAlta interPLAY Festival. This year, Canada Day festivities took place June 30 and July 1. More than 5,000 residents showed up at the Clearwater School Field for the Nexen Canada-ROCKS concerts and the Syncrude Fireworks Spectacular show. Eleven bands and musicians including Dan Mangan, Mother Mother and Simple Plan rocked the stage over the two days as Fort McMurrayites were wowed by the stellar local and national talents cutting across all genres. Bright and early on a beautiful Canada Day morning, 10,000 people lined the streets of Fort McMurray proudly showing their civic pride as they cheered on the Legacy Dodge Canada Day Parade. After the parade, there was a full day of free family activities, multicultural performances and entertainment, again sponsored by Legacy Dodge.

Just four short weeks after the YMM Canada Day Festival came the 23rd annual TransAlta interPLAY Festival. From August 2-11, the festival showcased fantastic musicians, stunt teams and world-class theatre shows. Highlights included the 3rd annual interPLAY Film Festival, Cuban sensations, Havana d’Primera, and the return of the Aerial Angels, but it was the local talent that stole the show! Once again, the Suncor Homegrown Talent Search took place with almost 50 contestants signed up. The local Fringe-style theatre performances were awesome – 15 performances of 5 shows created right here in Wood Buffalo. There’s an abundance of talent in this region!

By the time winter has fallen upon Wood Buffalo and we have officially rung in the holiday season, we will have welcomed Santa back to town with the Legacy Dodge Santa Claus Parade. And with that, a full year for the team here at EWB draws to a close. We’re proud of the events we’ve brought to you this year, and we’re always happy to hear your suggestions for the future. If you are interested in what’s next for EWB please visit us on Facebook at Events Wood Buffalo, follow us on Twitter at @Events_YMM, give us call, or drop by and see us. Happy Holidays from the team at EWB!

See you at winterPLAY 2014!


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