The Vernon Winter Carnival is looking for community input to give jopo and jopette a new look. (Vernon Winter Carnival photo)

Okanagan’s Winter Carnival seeks makeover for mascots

New look for jopo and jopette of Vernon Winter Carnival

The iconic blue and white silent mascots of Vernon Winter Carnival are getting a makeover.

The face of Carnival since 1965, jopo and jopette symbolize the happy spirit of the annual event.

It’s a hard task to represent an almost 60-year-old tradition, so the Carnival is asking for the community’s help to give the mascots a refresh!

“We’re looking to individuals to send in their ideas for a new costume design for jopo and jopette, something updated, but that will still be recognizable as the symbol of Carnival,” said Vicki Proulx, executive director for Vernon Winter Carnival.

Vernon Winter Carnival will be holding a contest until Nov. 8, asking the community to send in designs for a new look for the mascots. Criteria includes:

– Costumes must be Carnival blue and white

– Must be age and gender neutral

– Must be winter appropriate and suitable for outdoor wear in February

The winning contestant will receive a cash prize of $500 and the design will be presented at the Vernon Winter Carnival Business After 5 – Dec. 10, 2019.

“We wanted to hold a contest for this task as it’s a way for the community to get involved and update a recognizable mascot that relates back to the community and the festival,” said Deb White, Carnival chair.

Contest details can be found at the website: https://vernonwintercarnival.com/contests. For more information on the contest or how to become a jopo or jopette volunteer contact Vicki Proulx info@vernonwintercarnival.com.

Jopo was a brainchild of Mrs. John Maynard, who thought Vernon should have a character to identify our Winter Carnival. She designed the costume and Bill Allum (along with his wife Lorraine) emerged as the first jopos. Mary Huggins helped by creating the facial make-up. At this time (1965) the jester did not have a name and a contest was launched.

The winning entry was submitted by 12-year-old Tina Wunderli, who won $25 for her efforts.

The demands on jopo were great and Carnival officials came up with more identical jopos. In the late ’60s acrobatic dancer Karen Smith entertained at the Queen Silver Star Proclamation as the first jopette.

Today jopo and jopette are portrayed by volunteers, representing Vernon Winter Carnival at events throughout the region year-round.

The Vernon Winter Carnival Society was an idea born 60 years ago to foster community spirit and promote Greater Vernon through a 10 day winter festival. That idea still lives with the Society today. Vernon Winter Carnival is one of the largest events of its kind in Canada.


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