Vernon councillor Teresa Durning had the task of saving longtime Vernon Winter Carnival volunteer and former event chair Doug Edgar a seat at the opening weekend VIP breakfast.
That seat was beside Coldstream mayor Ruth Hoyte.
Edgar had been chatting with Hoyte when Carnival executive director Kris Fuller stepped up to the microphone at the Vernon Recreation Centre and announced Edgar as the 2024 recipient of Carnival’s highest honour, the Order of jopo.
Edgar, who stands five-foot-five-inches tall, was presented his Order of jopo medal by Premier David Eby, who is six-foot-seven-inches tall. Eby stayed on the floor while Edgar hopped up on to a stage to be taller than the premier.
“I was talking to Ruth Hoyte and I heard my name called as winning the medal,” said Edgar. “I wasn’t expecting it all. I was totally surprised.”
Edgar’s involvement with Carnival began when he and his wife, Sandy, moved 20 years ago to Vernon from Prince George, where Edgar had been a teacher. He started volunteering as jopo, the Carnival’s first and long-time mascot.
“It was fun going to the various events talking to people, and taking part in the parade, waving at the kids,” he said.
He enjoyed being a judge in the Best Decorated Premises competitions, and also spent a lot of time in Carnival’s hoosegow (jail) around the North Okanagan when he became chair.
“We would be promoting Arrest the Best and we took part in parades in Vernon, Lumby, Falkland, Armstrong,” said Edgar, Carnival chair in 2015. He and Sandy were very involved in community service in Prince George before moving to the North Okanagan.
When not helping out with Carnival, Edgar can be found on-stage at Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre. He will be in the upcoming Powerhouse production, The Importance of Being Earnest, Feb. 21 to March 2.
Fuller was delighted to announce Edgar as the Order of jopo recipient.
“He’s been an amazing supporter of the Carnival and volunteered throughout many, many years,” she said. “He is also a well-known past chair who has shown tremendous community spirit and commitment.”
The Order of jopo is the highest honour that the Vernon Winter Carnival can bestow. Through the City of Vernon, it has been presented to visiting dignitaries, long-time Carnival supporters, past chairs and honoured cities around the world.
Eby was also presented with a medal as a visiting dignitary.
The Carnival also announced Nor-Val Rentals owner Jim Clipperton as the winner of the Jesse Ferguson Memorial Trophy for his “huge heart and dedication to Carnival.”
“He hasn’t forgotten about his community and has been supporting the Carnival for many years,” said Fuller. “The machinery he has been providing us has always been needed.”