Snowblower Festival 2009 Tuesday January 19, 2010

Or the sub-title Why Can’t The City of Calgary Do Something Like this Every Month?

So on Saturday night, on a whim and through the encouragement of the vast yyc twitter community, I decided to take in the Snowblower Festival as a part of the High Performance Rodeo.

Essentially, The Snowblower festival was a rave like dance party at Olympic plaza on Saturday evening. It was filled with was fire dancers, smaller dance troops and some outstanding DJ work by England’s Mr. Scruff and Colorado’s Pretty Lights. It was fantastically attended, with close to 2,000 people dancing the cold weather away in Olympic Plaza and another 3,000 people popping in and out of the One Yellow Rabbit Beer Gardens. The attendees of the evening ranged from you’re typical staggering Downtown-dwelling Meth-head to young Urban couples with baby carriages to your a-typical Hipster.

For everyone in attendance, it was a fantastic example of what this city could actually do … If they put their mind to it.

Through conversations with Nathan, Will and others it was revealed, to my shock, that the City had nothing to do with this little disco-dance party. The entire event was privately funded by the exceptional One Yellow Rabbit Theatre. From renting Olympic Plaza to flying in international DJs to paying the salaries of the EMS and security teams, it all came out of the pockets of this little Theatre crew. (*Updated*: Please see the comments from One Yellow Rabbit’s organizer Mark Hopkins about the City’s sponsorship and involvement with the Snowblower Festival.)

Which is absolutely exceptional.

The overwhelming success and simplicity of Snowblower really put some of the City of Calgary’s most recent events to shame. cough, cough The Non-existent New Years Eve Celebration… cough, cough.

I won’t rant about this anymore, because I don’t want to take away from the amazing night, but it really boils down to simplicity and a focused effort to attract a specific audience. The City of Calgary is notoriously guilty in planning events that shot gun the entire spectrum of the cities’ age demographic. Because of which, a city sponsored event tends to scare off the majority.

What Snowblower excelled at was being target directly at the Hipsters, the Avant-Garde Theatre crowd and then the ravers… In turn creating a successful trickle down effect, which ended up brining in young families and nerdy Web Design guys with week knees to Olympic Plaza to dance the night away.

So with that you need to check out more of the High Performance Rodeo as it ends on January 31st. Also check out Faby Martin’s personal site for more photos, as she was so gracious as to let me use a couple of her awesome photos in this post. (She’s a great photographer and has a stunning photo in the yycPhotobook). And Last … but definitely not least, if you’re into some solid beats as the kids like them, check out Pretty Lights.

Categories: The-Calgary-Vibe, The-Urban, The Music


Great post! Was thinking the same thing. Would love to see more stuff like this all the time, but it is hard to get support in this city, for some reason. The High Performance Rodeo is doing an awesome job and planning an even bigger event next year for their 25th anniversary. I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Blue · Jan 19, 10:31 am · #permalink


It was such a fantastic event and if they included it in next year’s HPR, I’d love to see it again.

It’s really shocking that the City puts up such a wall of bureaucracy against events like this in the City. It was so well organized, but at the same time there was no pressure or crack down on the revellers. It didn’t feel like big brother was watching over you and the ironci thing is that it was pretty much manned by City of Calgary employees. It was a great atmosphere and it was such a great event. I’m really excited that OYR took the chance to throw this party and really hope they do it again.

cto · Jan 19, 01:29 pm · #permalink


Thanks for the lovely post! I had a total blast at Snowblower, and all of us at the Rodeo were thrilled with how it turned out.

I do need to correct you on one point, though – the City of Calgary was the single biggest sponsor of Snowblower, and there’s absolutely no way it would have happened without City support. They put in thousands of dollars and a great deal of effort to make Snowblower happen.

There are a lot of great people at the City, and I hope that success stories like Snowblower will set a precedent for more excellent public events in the future.

Mark Hopkins · Jan 19, 06:46 pm · #permalink


Hi Mark,

Thank you for the comments about the Snowblower festival and the involvement from the city. I like you do hope that the Snowblower festival does set a great precedent for more diverse and targeted events, such as Snowblower.

I will definitely correct the post to reflect your comments about the City’s involvement. As a long time citizen of Calgary and after watching numerous events get muddled up by some of the bureaucracy of city council, it’s easy for myself (and many others) to become quite cynical and even skeptical of the City’s intentions. If anything the comments you left and the help of the City with this event give many of us some hope for the future and for the future success of festivals like Snowblower.

Thanks for the comments and for all the hard work with High Performance Rodeo.

cto · Jan 20, 12:06 am · #permalink

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