How McCall is gearing up for this year's Winter Carnival.

The City of McCall is preparing to celebrate 52 years of the McCall Winter Carnival. Every year, the small town of 3,000 welcomes a surge of more than 60,000 people during the 10-day winter jubilee.

Carnival-goers will enjoy the traditional fireworks, Mardi Gras Parade and snow sculptures along with numerous other festivities like snowshoe golf, dogsledding demos, and a hairy-legs contest. Returning this year after a long hiatus is the Miss McCall Winter Carnival Pageant, open to women ages 18-24, and the winner will go on to compete in the Miss Idaho Pageant in June. The McCall Winter Carnival runs Friday Jan. 27 through Sunday Feb. 5, 2017.

"We are thrilled to be celebrating another year of the McCall Winter Carnival," Winter Carnival chair McKenzie Christensen said. "The City of McCall has gathered together to create a memorable experience that keeps visitors coming back year after year, and we are so proud of our community."

McCall is the largest town in Valley County, and this year's theme --

"1 Valley, 100 Years" -- celebrates the region's 2017 centennial.

Tracy Holm, the world-renowned painter creating this year's poster, explores the topic by reinterpreting 24 historic black-and-white McCall-area photos in color. The Southern California artist, who usually paints bicycle and automobile racers like Tour de France Grand Champions and NASCAR victors, grew up in McCall.

The inspiration for the Winter Carnival dates back to 1924, when McCall created the Payette Lake Sports Carnival, named after the large, picturesque, glacier-carved, sandy-beached body of water that provides much of McCall's summer and fall allure. The Sports Carnival existed for several years before becoming an ice-breakup contest, which ended when gambling became illegal in 1941.

In 1965, the community rallied to bring back a winter festival to help promote the area's pristine skiing. This effort led to the first annual McCall Winter Carnival at Brundage Mountain Resort, which Ski Magazine has claimed is home to "the best powder in North America."

The two-day event included slalom racing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and snowshoe and snowcat races.

Since then, the gala has grown into the popular, 10-day festival known today. The McCall Winter Carnival continues to attract visitors and amateur and professional snow sculptors from throughout the world, and the American Bus Association named it one of the Top 100 Events in North America.

Earlier this month named McCall one of the "best winter vacations across the USA for snow lovers," and Conde Nast Traveler's 2016 Readers' Choice Awards recognized local lakeside retreat Shore Lodge as one of the top resorts in the American West.


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