An assortments of pins, around 1 inch each, in a variety of shapes including triangles, squares, rectangles, and round.
One of the Vernon Museum’s set of Winter Carnival Pins, with examples from 1961 to 2022.

The 2024 Vernon Winter Carnival has kicked off! While each year brings its own set of surprises and delights, this was particular true of the first Winter Carnival, held in 1961. This inaugural event brought about the first parade, a series of sports jamborees, and even a square dance melody composed by the renowned Canadian musician Don Messer as a tribute to Vernon (“Bow to your partner, corner too, circle to the left, that’s what you do, to Vernon, B.C., the sports paradise, their winter carnival’s a must in your life”). It also saw the introduction of the Vernon Winter Carnival Button Program.

Since then, a button with its own unique design connected to the Carnival’s theme has been released annually. Throughout the entirety of the Carnival’s history, individuals have sought to collect at least one button a year, with even some younger residents hunting through antique stores and at collectible shows to find them all.

In addition to the year-to-year buttons and pins, two distinct button varieties exist. In the inaugural year of 1961, a triangle-shaped button was initially produced with sharply pointed corners. Following an apparent sellout, a second run was executed, this time with rounded corners, creating the first variety. Similarly, in 1962, a second run was conducted with a different-sized round die, resulting in either a smaller or larger button than the first run. The quantities of these varieties remain unknown. In 1997, an all-metal button named the “Good Times Award” was introduced, with a blue ribbon permanently attached and stating “I was caught having a ball at the Vernon Winter Carnival.” While the volume of these is also unclear, they are seldom seen at the Carnival office.

Certain collectors aim to discover all the button varieties and designs crafted throughout the years. Some also seek out an additional set of metal pins that come in three “confirmed” varieties—one featuring Jopo and a snowflake, another depicting a hot air balloon, and the third showcasing a Carnival Cop. While some collectors discern between button colors, slight variations are expected due to the printing process, and these are not typically considered distinctive features.

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts!

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives