Perfect weather drew record crowds creating a silver lining on the once stormy horizon of Silver City Days as the city’s biggest festival shone on the weekend.
An estimated 40,000 people squeezed into downtown Trail for the 49th annual festival — which ended Sunday evening — with nearly 8,000 jamming the midway and the vendor court on Saturday after the parade.
People came from across the West Kootenay, and made a homecoming sojourn from coastal climes and Alberta to take in the festival festivities.
It was a sensory delight, a riot of smells, sounds, sights and tastes for all ages, weaving a weekend of merriment and frivolity in a way only a fair could do.
The cheerful character of the celebration contradicted the fact the venerable festival was in jeopardy of being cancelled late last month after its funding formula was tampered with by Trail city council.
Instead, Silver City Days rippled throughout the week with various events — including the Trail/Warfield Citizen of the Year on Tuesday, the opening of the midway on Wednesday, the food vendors sizzling it up on Thursday, and the Miss Trail Pageant beautifully seasoning the festival on Friday — building up to the weekend and its biggest day on Saturday.
And Saturday did not disappoint. A colourful parade winding through the downtown began the day, giving way to the adrenaline-infused Cliffhanger, Spinner and the Zipper on the midway, culminating with a stunning fireworks display at night that drew applause and hoots of appreciation from the crowd scattered throughout the Columbia River valley.
The ripple effect continued Sunday as a record 300 runners hit the pavement in the Fun Run in the morning, and Gyro Park was filled with families for Family Fun Day in the afternoon.
It was a weekend to remember, said Ian McLeod, the president of Silver City Days’ organizing committee, for many of the people who attended the five-day extravaganza.
“It was busy pretty much all the way through,” he said.
All of the vendors reported a huge increase in traffic and sales compared to previous years, with the overall festival being a “70 per cent improvement,” McLeod added.
The Sidewalk Café stepped back into Silver City Days at a good clip, after a four-year absence, as hundreds of people poured through the doors of the Cominco Arena for spaghetti and meatballs.
Hosted by the Trail Smoke Eaters Junior Hockey Club, the all-day event was very well attended and concluded with a dance, said team president Tom Gawryletz.
“And we got off to a good start for next year,” he said.
McLeod is already thinking about next year, with the 50th anniversary planning underway and the vendors signed on. He said by the end of the month they will be knocking on Trail city council’s door asking for support and funding for the silver anniversary celebration.
He encouraged people to write council to tell them how much they liked the festival and help build a case for additional funding to do up the anniversary right, said McLeod.
“We’re going to go right into (the 50th), we’re not taking any breaks,” he said. “We’d like to put on a big show for the people of Trail.”
Photos by Simon Oakley, Breanne Massey, Timothy Schafer and Guy Bertrand