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Community groups awarded for helping with 2024 Winter Festival of Speed

A total of 16 community organizations that provided volunteers for the 2024 Festival of Speed received cheques from the $26,800 made from this year's event.

Representatives of 16 community organizations that provided volunteers for the 2024 Festival of Speed were recently awarded funding for their efforts. 

In the four decades the winter festival weekend has been held in Lac La Biche, more than a quarter-million dollars has been returned to local groups, say event organizers. 

This year’s groups included the Lac La Biche 4-H Club, local scouts, Lac La Biche Backcountry Riders, the Northern Beat Dance Academy, and the Lac La Biche Kinsmen. All of the groups split more than $26,000 in proceeds raised at the event over the February 24 weekend. 

 According to event coordinator Ken Staples, the money is divided up and given to community groups to reward them for their work with the popular annual event known for its ice races, aircraft fly-ins, and other attractions. 

 Staples said considering that this year’s Festival of Speed featured fewer events — including the popular snowmobile drag races — this was a good chunk of change to take in. 

 “It’s probably the second-highest that we’ve distributed over the years,” Staples told Lakeland This Week.  

While limited snowfall may have caused the cancellation of the snowmobile races, as Staples explains, the upside of the warm winter weather was that organizers were able to control costs and reduce some of the annual expenses involved in hosting a larger event.  

The net result, he said, was that the festival actually made more money on a smaller year.  

Staples explained that the teams of volunteers helped in a variety of areas, including working the admission gates, acting as security, site cleanup, and helping with evening banquets. He continued by saying that volunteers make up the workforce beyond the organizing committee.   

To keep things fair, as some groups provide more volunteers or work longer hours, Staples stated, the festival organizing committee doesn’t disclose how much each organization receives for their volunteer efforts during the Festival of Speed. During Tuesday’s presentation, the groups received sealed envelopes with their cheques inside.  

“We keep track of the hours, and it’s basically paid by the amount of work that each group does,” he said. 

Planning is already underway for next year’s winter festival event, which may include more community and winter-themed events like snowslides, mazes and an outdoor pond hockey tournament. 

Chris McGarry

About the Author: Chris McGarry

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