The Sioux Lookout Blueberry Festival has been in existence since 1983!
It is a ten-day festival celebrating the community of Sioux Lookout and is accessible to everyone. With over 100 events annually, the Blueberry Festival has become a grand summer celebration attracting thousands of visitors from around the region and around the world. Starting on the Friday before the August long weekend and lasting for ten days, residents and visitors come together and form a bond of great communal spirit. Many of the events encompass the beauty of the area, allowing participants and spectators to enjoy the plentiful lakes and beaches. From the very young to the young at heart, and from the athletically inclined to the most sedate sport enthusiasts, there is something for everyone at the Blueberry Festival.
The annual Sioux Lookout Blueberry Festival was a project initiated by the Chamber of Commerce in 1983. This was an idea from three executive members: Marnie Hoey, Dick Davidson, and Allan Pizziol. Allan was the person who suggested that "Blueberry" be used as the theme because of the absolutely great blueberries that grow here in August.
The festival was first launched with about fifty events and has grown to over a hundred, ranging from the traditional to the unique. In 1983 the anchor event was the Chamber of Commerce Trade Show. Also the Cedar Bay Riding Centre had a real country hoedown, the Rotary Pancake Breakfast was a great success, the Fastball Tournament and Bavarian Gardens were major events, and the Children's activities at the Town Beach were well attended. Blueberry Bert was born as the Festival mascot, designed by Sherry Glena who was working at the museum that summer; the first Blueberry Pie contest was won by Ann Donnelly
The ten days continue to be jammed with fun-filled events that were added as years passed. Some early and still successful events include the Bannock Bake-Off, The Sioux Mountain Music and Cultural Festival, the St. Andrew's Fish Fry, the Museum's Old Fashioned Picnic, the Biggest Blueberry Contest, as well as sports tournaments, including golf, tennis, fastball, and bocce.
The first organizers wanted to give Sioux Lookout a celebration of their community, a time to show off all that Sioux Lookout has to offer, share each others interests and have a fun time that everyone could participate in. They wanted to put the town on the map and let everyone know just how great a community Sioux Lookout is and how well everyone can work together.
In 2001, the Blueberry Festival, in partnership with the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, the Travel Information Centre, and FedNor succeeded in obtaining funding for a one year internship position. This program provided the Blueberry Festival with a Coordinator (Tammy Zebruck), who, after the wrap-up of the festival, worked on various tourism and economic studies for the Municipality and aided in the facilitation of the Municipally run Winter Festival. The intern also had the opportunity to apply for various forms of funding for the Blueberry Festival. Through the work of the intern, and the previous Festival Coordinator, Kevin Nenka, it was recognized by the Blueberry Festival Committee, that a full time, year round coordinator was needed as the Festival had grown so much in both size and scope that the amount of work it takes to put on the Festival could not be done by a summer student.
In order to be eligible for funding the Blueberry Festival had to be incorporated. The Festival was thus incorporated as the Sioux Lookout Blueberry Festival and Special Events in November of 2001. The name was chosen to acknowledge the corporation's roots in the Blueberry Festival, and includes "Special Events" to acknowledge the expansion of the corporation number.
The Blueberry Festival has been growing and expanding since 1983. We are hoping to keep expanding as the years come.
- Joe Carbone, Sioux Lookout
- “Blueberry Bocce goes fantastic each and every year like clockwork.
People are enthusiastic and want to play and it’s a real great community event.”.
- Andy Carol, Sioux Lookout
- ““I grew up with the [Sioux Mountain Festival], as a new band,
- being able to play in this venue was a great opportunity and a lot of fun,”
West Jet Fun Festivals Contest
Rhonda Hall (November 26, 2011)
"Our festival is amazing with so many things to do and experience. the town is so friendly and welcoming. Who can beat wild blueberries!!"
Theresa Stephens (December 28, 2011)
The rankings for the Blueberry Festival are testament to a great community. One of the most friendly and welcoming places I have experienced. The festival is truly a delight for all ages!
- Question of the Week: (July 16, 2008)
What activities are you looking forward to during the Blueberry Festival?
- Caitlin Craig (deli worker): The music festival, the car show, and being able to wear a t-shirt during work.
Clement Cospito (paramedic): The music festival and the volleyball tournament.
Madeline Grey (Cat Lake): I’m looking forward to blueberry picking.
Kenny Liddon (stock person): The golf tournaments at the golf course...
- West Jet Fun Festivals Contest
- Michelle Diston (November 17, 2011):
- "There is always something for everyone of all ages at the Blueberry Festival"
- Ron Bennett (November 26, 2011):
- "My family come from Manitoba every year to attend this great festival. the grandkids love Blueberry Bert and all the activities."