By Dan Walton

Pioneer Staff

The biggest reminder of winter comes to the valley each year in the middle of January, when Kinsmen Beach becomes the home of the Snowflake Festival, Taste of the Valley, and the Bonspiel on the Lake.

This year, the sixth annual Snowflake Festival will coincide with the 32nd annual Bonspiel on the Lake. And theres more cuisine than ever before nine local restaurants have signed up to share their finest cuts at Taste of the Valley. The event begins at 4 p.m. on Friday, January 23rd with communal skating on the many maintained skating surfaces of Lake Windermere. At 5 p.m., live music will be performed by local band Dandelions whose song Take Me There was featured on the promotional Whiteway video.

Its a local band and theyre just super, said Theresa Wood, events co-ordinator for the District of Invermere.

The grills will be fired up by 6 p.m. for the start of Taste of the Valley. Restaurants from around the valley will offer sample parts of their menus for those with Taste of the Valley passports. Passports cost $10, and can be purchased at Candyland and Tiffanys Thredz. Included with the passport is a coupon book for local eateries, which offers more than double the passports value back in savings.

Theyre all excited to participate, said Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Clovechok. For them to pull out all their resources and come down to the lake, all the safety procedures and paperwork with Interior Health its a big commitment on their behalf, not to mention that theyre giving the food away.

For those who arent keeping active on the ice, many fire pits will be burning to keep the idle crowds warm.

People will be able to enjoy their Taste of the Valley food by the fire and enjoy the music, said Ms. Wood.

To cap off the event, an impressive fireworks display is expected. Its really professional. Its the same group that does the Canada Day fireworks, Theresa said.

While the fireworks signify the end of the festival, the Bonspiel on the Lake continues on through Sunday, January 25th. The long-standing tournament attracts teams from around B.C., Alberta, and Washington state.

And young curlers will have the chance to take part in this years Bonspiel on the Lake, an old tradition thats being revived.Twenty years ago when I was 10 I did that and thats what got me into curling, said Curling Club board member Holly Jones. I remember it being pretty amazing, especially at night.

Theres no specific age range;the club is looking for curlers from about eight-years-old into the teenager years. Registration costs $10, and is required beforehand at the Invermere Curling Club.