The Whitefish Winter Carnival celebrates its 59th anniversary February 2-4. Loosely based on Nordic traditions, the entire town celebrates the beauty of winter with a variety of events that include the downtown Parade, ski races, Yeti snow skate, snowboard competition,dinners, dances, Kiddie Carnival, torch light parade and fireworks. The popular but icy Penguin Plunge into Whitefish Lake benefits Special Olympics. Skijoring (ski racers pulled by horses) is also one of the carnival highlights.
The Carnival hosts numerous characters such as Yetis, Viking princesses, Queen of the Snows, penguins and various royalty.
Legend has it that once upon a time, there lived a god named Ullr who reigned over winter activities in the Nordic regions. Aiding him were his Prime Minister and Queen, who were skilled in creating the beauties of winter.
As time went by, however, his subjects became more engrossed in exploring the world and its oceans, and they paid less homage to their god-king and the festivities of their winter season, so Ullr became a god all-but-forgotten, except in dim tradition.
After centuries of brooding and searching the world for a place to rest, Ullr and his two remaining subjects came to the Flathead Valley. So struck were they with its beauty that they decided to settle there and selected the Big Mountain as their adopted home.
Their rest was short-lived as they soon found their home was also the abode of a fierce band of snowmen called Yetis, who attempted to kidnap their Queen. However, Ullr and his followers, being more agile and resourceful, prevailed and learned to live with only occasional skirmishes with the Yetis.
Eventually, man invaded the valley with axes, guns and wagons. Ullr, his followers and the yetis observed these men as they civilized the valley and were alarmed when these men began to invade their homes.
Ullr found these men were not aware of his presence, and as he continued to observe these men, he found they not only enjoyed the sports of winter, but referred to Ullr himself as a patron saint of their small celebrations and revelries.
Seeing his chance after centuries of loneliness and self-banishment, Ullr assumed the garb of these men and went among them. The Yetis however, would have nothing to do with these men, except for attempts to drive them away.
Ullr aided the men in subduing the harassments of the Yetis, became their true hero and Kind, and it was proclaimed that there would be an annual fete at which Ullr and his court would be given the full homage due them.
Now each year in the town of Whitefish, know as the Holiday Village, the Yetis, bolder than ever, try to steal the Queen, harass the Prime Minister and interfere with the festivities to assert their right to Big Mountain.
Ullr and his growing band of followers subdue them and send them fleeing back to their haven in the high valleys beyond the Big Mountain, where they plan their next raid. Ullr again reigns as master of winter sports and frolics along with his Queen and Prime Minister, beloved in the hearts of his loyal subjects.
Events are staged throughout the town and on Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. Additional information can be found at www.whitefishwintercarnival.com.