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Elk Island National Park

2014 Calendar of Events

Children dance while enjoying live musical entertainment at Elk Island National Park.
© Parks Canada

Save the date!

Elk Island National Park’s 2014 special events will feature a variety of activities for visitors of all ages. Musical entertainment, cultural performances, guest speakers, outdoor programs, activities, culinary delights and more await you at Elk Island National Park this summer.

Please check back frequently for updates and new events or follow us on Twitter @ElkIslandNP.

The Bison Festival:
A celebration of conservation, culture and cuisine!

Saturday August 9, 2014

Bison were nearly lost from North America! But by the early 20th century, bison purchased from Montana and brought to Elk Island National Park began to slowly re-build their numbers. Today nearly every plains bison you see in southern Canada, whether in conservation or domestic herds, had an ancestor in Elk Island National Park. We think that’s something to celebrate! Join us for a rip-snorting good time at Elk Island National Park’s first Bison Festival, celebrating all things bison!

The Wardens: Bradley Bischoff, Ray Schmidt and Scott Ward

The Main Stage

12:00 – 18:00
The bison festival main stage will be alive with Music, drama, dance and poetry. Relax and enjoy the musical styling of The Wardens, a live action drama performed by Parks Canada staff, traditional dance performed by The Iron Head Dancers and the award winning poetry of Marilyn Dumont.

The Wardens

Live Musical Performance
Enjoy superb musicianship, haunting vocals and chilling tales from three men who spent their careers serving Canadians and protecting our country’s natural heritage. The Wardens - Scott Ward, Bradley Bischoff and Ray Schmidt share rich stories - from protecting Grizzly bears to rescuing stranded hikers to lonely nights on the trail. These "men for the mountains" share a special blend of music and storytelling from Canada's richest wilderness.

The Iron Head Dancers

Traditional Dance
The Iron Head dancers are a group of recognized and established dancers from Paul First Nation who have performed the Powwow dance across North America.

Rooted in the dances and techniques of the Powwow dance, each of the Iron Head Dancers are dedicated to the demonstration and perpetuation of the Aboriginal culture through its music, song, and dance. While retaining the character of the Traditional Aboriginal song and dance, the dancers include more newer and contemporary dance pieces with intricate footwork, and effortless movements while keeping up with the beat of the drum.

Marilyn Dumont

Award winning poetry
Marilyn’s poetry has won provincial and national awards. She has been the Writer-in-Residence at the Edmonton Public Library, the University of Alberta, the University of Toronto-Massey College, Windsor University, Brandon University and Grant MacEwan University. She has also been faculty in Literary Arts and the Aboriginal Emerging Writers Program at the Banff Centre. She teaches Creative Writing and English for Athabasca University and the University of Alberta.

BISON WILL RISE AGAIN The Musical (NEW this summer)

Canada's Bison Musical! Come and see Bibi Bison's debut as songstress and star of the plains as Queen of the Herd! Join Parks Canada interpreters for a live performance celebrating how Elk Island National Park contributed to the survival of plains bison.

Bibi the Bison sings in Bison Will Rise Again: The Musical at Elk Island National Park.

Programs and Activities

Indigenous Crafts and Knowledge Display

15:30– 18:00
I bet your boots would look better beaded! Try your hand at Aboriginal crafts. Materials Provided. While you are crafting Parks Canada staff will share traditional knowledge about how aboriginal people used plants for medicine and food and what steps were taken by aboriginal people to prepare for winter.

Bison Back Stage Shuttle Bus and Tour

13:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00
Your behind-the-scenes VIP access to bison conservation at Elk Island National Park! Experience a tour of the Plains Bison Handling Facility featuring hands-on activities and demonstrations. The facility is located in the visitor centre area. A shuttle Bus with Parks Canada staff on board will pick up visitors at the event site and transport them to the tour location.

Voyageur Canoe Rides

12:00 – 15:00

Face Painting

13:00 – 17:00

Fun under the Discovery Dome at Elk Island National Park

Demonstrations and Displays

The Bison Conservation Story

12:00 – 20:00
Parks Canada staff will be on site throughout the festival sharing the story of Canada’s bison. Stop by the Bison Conservation Story display tent and discover how Elk Island National Park has been working for over 100 years to bring bison back from their near extinction at the turn of the 20th century.

The Bison Festival Kitchen

14:30 – 18:00
Join the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance and two local chefs as they display their culinary skills and share bison cooking tips, techniques and recipes! Follow your nose and meet Chef Shane Chartrand from Sage restaurant at the River Cree Resort and Chef Tyler Youzwa from the Hotel Selkirk in Fort Edmonton Park.

The Canadian Bison Association and Bison Producers of Alberta

12:00 – 20:00
Explore Canada’s bison ranching history! Join domestic bison industry leaders and learn about life on a bison ranch, the benefits of bison as a healthy red meat and discover the role Elk Island National Park Played in helping to develop this industry in Canada.


American Prairie Reserve

Celebrate international bison conservation! Join our special guests from the American Prairie Reserve as they share how plains bison from Elk Island National Park are a piece of the puzzle in Great Plains restoration as they work to restore millions of acres of native prairie in Montana.

Other event displays include; the Friends of Elk Island Society, the Elk Island National Park Information Booth and Teepee.

Special Guest Presentations at the Astotin Theatre

18:00 – 21:00

Buffalo Calling

16:00 & 18:00
In 2013 PHD student and film maker Tasha Hubard produced the animated short film Buffalo Calling. Join the project animator Mitchell Poundmaker for the Elk Island premiere of this captivating and compelling film depicting the history of bison on the Great Plains.

The Sturgeon River Plains Bison Stewards

Did you know that Canada only has one free ranging herd of plains bison within its natural range? Join former chair and current member at large of the Sturgeon River Plans Bison Stewards, Gord Vaadeland and learn how Prince Albert National Park and its neighbors work together to provide a home to roam for the Sturgeon River Plains Bison Herd.

The Canadian Bison Association

Discover Canada’s bison ranching history! Join Canadian Bison Association Chair Thomas Acherman and Discover about life on a bison ranch, the benefits of bison as a healthy red meat and discover the role Elk Island National Park Played in helping to develop this industry in Canada. 

American Prairie Reserve

Celebrate international bison conservation! Special guest speakers, Kyran Kunkel and Betty Holder, from American Prairie Reserve will share how they are working to restore millions of acres of native prairie in Montana. Discover how plains bison from Elk Island National Park are helping this restoration of their ancestral home on the American Great Plains.

Visitors enjoy the food at Elk Island National Park events.

Festival Food

12:00 – 20:00
Mobile food vendors will be on site serving delicious bison meals. Food services provided by;
Prairie Dog Grill
Sandy View Farms
Elk Island Golf Course Club House

The Bison Festival Craft Fair

12:00 – 20:00
Local artists, crafters, producers and suppliers will be selling their goods at the bison festival, including;
Wes and Joanne Olsen – Bison Books, Photography and art.
Alberta Fine Leather Products – Fine leather products crafted from bison leather
Circe 4 Metal Art – Sculpture depicting bison and prairie culture
Caroline Feir – Bison and wilderness inspired craft and fine art
Canadian Rangeland Bison Ltd. – Bison meat products
Cash-in-Time – Mobile Automated Teller service

Event Parking Shuttle Service

13:00 – 20:00
The Bison festival is going to be a fantastic event! To help visitors enjoy their time at the festival Elk Island National Park will provide a parking shuttle service from the Astotin Lake recreation area event site to the following trail head parking lots within the park;
Shirley Lake Trail
Hayburger Trail
Moss Lake Trail
Amisk Wuche Trail
Beaver Pond Trail

Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve Anniversary

Sunday August 31, 2014

Sunday, August 31st marks the 8th anniversary of the creation of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve. Join us for a celestial celebration of culture, community and conservation!

The Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve anniversary will also feature special astronomy presentations and public stargazing with Royal Astronomical Society of Canada volunteers. Watch this page for a schedule of events and guest speakers.