Winter is a laughing matter in Greely.
The community is gearing up for its annual winter carnival, Jan. 25 to 29, which will feature several attractions that have become major highlights for residents of all ages over the last several years.
The biggest draw, without a doubt, said Bruce Brayman, president of the Greely Community Association, will be Greely Idol, a singing competition that has been known to draw vocalists from beyond Ottawa’s borders in past years.
Some of its alumni have gone on to larger platforms, such as former Idol winner Kristy Hagerman, who recently recorded an album, said Brayman.
“It's a great way, if you're in Greely, to have dinner and comedy and not have to drive downtown."
- Bruce Brayman, president, Greely Community Association
At the upcoming competition, space will be limited to 30 contestants, and anyone interested is asked to register in the junior category of seven to 12-year-olds or the senior category of 13 to 18-year-olds.
The first round of singing takes place Saturday, Jan. 28, from 1 to 4 p.m. The Idol finals take place Sunday, Jan. 29, from 2 to 4 p.m., all at the Greely Community Centre.
The finals are expected to be the big draw once again. A crowd of about 200 people typically comes out to enjoy the vocal talents.
“A lot of these kids purely enjoy performing, plus there are some prizes,” Brayman said, adding the winner will be presented with a $100 cash prize, a couple hours of studio recording time as well as a chance to sing at city hall and during Canada Day celebrations in Greely this year.
“Canada Day — when they sing, there could be over 1,000 people,” he said of the opportunity for the winner to perform in front of a larger audience.
Other carnival attractions will include a Greely Business Association-hosted spaghetti dinner and skate at the community centre on Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 6 to 8 p.m.
“It's kind of a kickoff to start,” Brayman said of the casual event, which costs $5 for kids, $10 for adults and $25 per family.
In previous years, an annual poker night the Thursday of the carnival has drawn 120 people. But that was shut down following the 2016 card-playing event by provincial alcohol and gaming officials because poker — even if no profit is made — is not permitted outside a casino, said Brayman.
But, the fun will resume on Friday, Jan. 27 for Greely youth, who are invited to enjoy a dance at the community centre from 7 to 10 p.m., thanks to the Greely Guides. The cost is $5.
Then, everyone is welcome to partake in a pancake and sausage breakfast put on by Greely firefighters on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Last year, the event drew a record crowd of upwards of 250 people. Adults and youth can eat for $5 and kids under 10 eat for $3.
There will also be sleigh rides and skating at the centre, from 10 a.m. to noon, and later at 6 p.m., a dinner and comedy show takes place at the same venue and goes until midnight.
The meal will be professionally catered by the Orchard View Wedding and Event Centre and the comics who aim to get the crowd in stitches are from Absolute Comedy Ottawa.
“It's a great way, if you're in Greely, to have dinner and comedy and not have to drive downtown,” Brayman said, adding the cost is $20 for the comedy or $40 for both. “We have it all fancied up and we have a cash bar and a nice dinner and we sit back and watch some comedians.”
A hearty brunch of eggs, waffles, beans, ham and potato patties and fruit cocktail will be served by the Greely and District Lions Club members, also at the centre, the next morning on Sunday, Jan. 29, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost is $7 for adults and youth, and $4 for children under 10.
Just before the brunch comes to a close, interactive radical science demonstrations will keep the kids entertained from noon to 1 p.m.
“It’s a fun few days,” said Brayman, who has been running the carnival with a bevy of dedicated volunteers for the past several years.
The annual carnival is designed to bring Greely residents together as a community.
“I think you're almost halfway into winter. You've been shut in. There’s not as many events, and it’s an easy event for everyone to get together,” Brayman said.
“I go out and I see a ton of people that I haven’t seen in two, three months, even neighbours sometimes,” he said with a laugh.