How The Winterfestival Fair Began
Well, it was started by Carol Rae in the late 70's as an opportunity for local people to sell their arts and crafts, Winterfestival was then taken on by local potter Linda Burrows who organized the fair from the early 80's til another local artist, Denise Aleksich, took the helm in the late 80's. After fifteen years, Denise then passed it on to Linda's daughter Carmen Burrows - so perhaps a pattern is emerging!
What started as a small venue quickly turned into an anticipated winter event on northern Vancouver Island where vendors are represented from as far south as the Comox Valley and Victoria.
History of Sointula Performances
Community performance has a long tradition in Sointula, going back to the original Finnish utopians who settled Malcolm Island in 1901.
The F.O. Hall (Finnish Organization Hall) that now stands on the hill on First Street was rebuilt in 1911 after a tragic fire in 1903. It houses the stage, kitchens, meeting halls, and venue for the many community gatherings that take place throughout the year. A priceless piece of the history of theatre in Sointula is this stage scrim that is now housed in the Sointula Museum (across the street from the hall).
A few years later, the Athletic Hall was built adjacent to the F.O. Hall to accommodate what was a European practice of communal calisthenics. For a while it was Sointula's Fire Hall. Today it's referred to as both the Athletic Hall or the Fire Hall.
Coffee House — In the '80's, local musicians hung around after the fair and started a tradition of playing together for local entertainment.
Gumboot Arts — By the 90's the coffee house evenings changed into variety style shows including local characters, skits, lip-syncing, air-banding and dancing.
Stagehogs — In 2008, the shows began to develop themes and a somewhat regular troupe of players created the ensemble known today as the Sointula Stagehogs. The music, the comedy and the entertaining continues on as we all look forward each year to a night of laughing together as the unique island community we've become.