Magnificent River Rats Festival
The very first River Rats Festival in 1995 was, in fact, on the river. Local jet boaters held races and competitions over the Canada Day long weekend. Today, the Magnificent River Rats Festival has evolved into one of Northern Alberta’s premier outdoor music festivals, attracting local and national talent to its unique riverfront stage.
With genres varying from country, rock, and pop to blues, swing, and the golden oldies, there’s a bit of something for everyone – and the chance to listen to something new. This family-oriented festival boasts more than 16 hours of live music, a kids’ zone, marketplace, and lots of food. A Canada Day parade, classic car show, and fireworks round off a fantastic way to celebrate Canadian music talent and kick-start your summer.
The annual Rochester Fair brings hundreds of visitors to see the Main Street parade and enjoy the show & shine, traditional jamboree, heavy horse pulls, marketplace, and lots of activities for the kids. Come for the day and bring your family – a pancake breakfast, great concessions, beer garden, and classic steak supper in the evening will keep you well-fed while you enjoy the festivities. For more information, visit www.roags.ca.
Jet Boat Poker Rally
All Jet Boats and water crafts are welcome to participate! The rally is a popular event with boat owners from throughout the region and beyond, and is a great way to get introduced to the mighty Athabasca River. The run operates like any other poker rally: stop in at the checkpoints to add a card to your hand, and the best poker hand wins. The fun doesn’t end there – live music, kids’ scavenger hunt, concession, cash prizes, and lots of door prizes make this an event for the whole family. Everything wraps up at Riverside Recreation Park, where you can camp for the night and participate in the boat rodeo on Sunday.
The rally is hosted by Grand Rapids Wilderness Adventures: call (780) 689-0567 or 689-6096 for more information.
Hawg Flatts Bike Rally & Pig Roast
Bikers from across the province know that Hawg Flatts is the place to be in mid-July. The four day event takes place about 30 km north of the Town of Athabasca and boasts a show & shine, bike rodeo, concessions, and plenty of contests. The venue has the amenities you need to camp comfortably, including showers, fire pits, and water. The secluded location, beer gardens, and live music will keep you in good company! If you can’t make the rally, consider joining them for the Toy Run every September, which is dedicated to Santas Anonymous. For more information, visit www.hawgflatts.com.
photo by Leah Ross
Amber Valley Chicken Supper
Amber Valley was settled in the early 1900s by black immigrants from Oklahoma, US seeking a better life. The twice-annual chicken suppers in April and October commemorate this history with traditional fried chicken, biscuits, corn fritters, and vegetables. While you’re there, take a peek inside the Amber Valley museum for a more detailed history of this community. For upcoming suppers, check the events calendar.
photo courtesy of Athabasca University
Athabasca Regional Airport Fly-In BBQ
Athabasca County and its Airport Committee are very proud of the Athabasca Regional Airport. They host this event each year on the third weekend in July to showcase the airport, the improvements that have been made to it, and the potential for growth in its future. It’s a free barbecue and event that is open to the public and the Alberta aviation community. Displays from aviation businesses and organizations inform the public of the importance of the airport for northern Alberta. In the past, the event has offered visitors the opportunity to win a ride in a helicopter, fighter jet, or a skydiving experience.
For more information, visit www.athabascacounty.com/athabasca-regional-airport-cywm.
Athabasca River Runners Annual Snowmobile Rally
Everyone is welcome to participate in the region’s annual snowmobile rally, which offers a short route and long route along scenic trails that are maintained by the Athabasca River Runners Snowmobile Club. Registrants receive a poker hand and free hot dog lunch along the trail. The rally often attracts more than 200 sledders and is a great way to explore the hundreds of kilometres of trail that the club maintains every winter.
For more information, visit the River Runners website at athabascariverrunners.ca.
When Christmas is just around the corner, downtown Athabasca gets in the spirit! The local Chamber of Commerce organizes a Friday evening in November when stores are open late, Santa Claus leads the parade, and fireworks fill the sky. The event encourages residents to shop local, but also offers some great deals, contests, and activities for visitors.
Northern Lights Spiritus Singers
The Northern Lights Spiritus Singers is a holiday choir composed of 80 to 100 voices in five-part harmony. Every December, they put on a series of concerts filled with Christmas music that is one of the most highly anticipated events of the season. The Nancy Appleby Theatre has every seat filled for their thrilling performances. The concerts are by donation, with proceeds going to local charities.
To learn more about the Northern Lights Spiritus Singers, visit their website.