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Winter Carnival Memories

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

One spectacular crash sent ski-joring packing from downtown Whitefish.

(Above and Below) Skiers race down Central Avenue in Whitefish. Skijoring happened downtown until Russ Street crashed into the Toggery window.

From the Hungry Horse News:

“SKIJORING DOWN WHITEFISH’S main street was a Saturday afternoon event. Snow was hauled in for event that sees horses pulling skiers in course looping around pylons at about 25 m.p.h. It’s tricky.” - the caption in the Hungry Horse News for the photo above.


One of the popular events in the early Carnival years was the snow-shovel race. One competitor would pull their partner down the course before switching on their way back to the finish line on Central Avenue.

From the Whitefish Pilot on February 21, 1961:

“A shovel race brought out a variety of costumes, including Russ Street’s valentine shorts. Street, wearing golf shoes on the hard packed snow, got away to a big lead, but his partner, Bob Sullivan, couldn’t keep up the pace when it was his turn to pull the shovel, and the race trophy went to Bob Patterson.” Photo by Marion Lacy.


Another unique event at the beginning of the Carnival was a cross country ski race around downtown. Apparently, local businesses could call each other out for this race!

From the Whitefish Pilot on February 21, 1961:

“The Chamber of Commerce, defending champion in the metropolitan cross country ski championships, challenged the Great Northern accounting office this year and retained its title. Combined times for the ski race through downtown business places were for the Chamber, 13 minutes and 45 seconds, and for the Great Northern, 15 minutes and 8 seconds.” Photo by Marion Lacy


Carnival costumes took off instantly during the first years. Pictured here are the Klumsy Klowns in their homemade outfits. The Klumsy Klowns (and other groups like the Great Northern Goats) faded away over the years, but many of the original costume groups still frequent today’s Carnival events: the Penguins, the Yettis, and the Vikings!


From the Archives

These clippings are from the Whitefish Pilot archives stored at the Whitefish Community Library. Special thanks to the librarians for helping us find these gems!

Thanks for reading this story about the early years of the Whitefish Winter Carnival!

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