2-day festival of bargain hunting, food and entertainment
Downtown Camrose is home to dozens of unique shops, most locally owned.
All photos by Debbie Olsen
CAMROSE - Walk down 50th Street in Camrose and you’ll notice two things – the city has a lot of gutsy women and they’re well dressed. The downtown core is filled with wonderful boutiques that sell everything from fashion and accessories to musical instruments, art and home furnishings. Most of the shops are owned and operated by women who handpick their inventory. There’s hardly a chain store in sight. Tweet This!
“A lot of gutsy young gals have started businesses in downtown Camrose,” says Debbie Thompson, vice chair of the Downtown Camrose board. “There are also some excellent shops run by men, but they’re in the minority these days. There are a lot of mother/daughter partnerships and there’s a wonderful sense of community and revitalization going on.”
Tish’s Fashions & Finery, downtown Camrose.
Thompson has firsthand knowledge about what it takes to be a successful female entrepreneur. She and her daughter own and operate “From Kicks to Kids,” a popular boutique that offers maternity, baby and children’s clothing, footwear and gear.
As you walk along the wide downtown streets, it’s fun to slip in and out of the shops and check out the unique wares. Visitors have been travelling to the city’s boutiques for years, just to find items they can’t get anywhere else.
Alberta’s oldest outdoor shopping festival
On June 3 and 4, 2016 Camrose will host the 59th annual Jaywalker’s Jamboree, a downtown festival with a focus on shopping. For two days, the streets of downtown will be closed to motorized vehicles as 50th street becomes an outdoor trade show and fair featuring fantastic deals from local businesses as well as guest vendors. It’s like a giant sidewalk sale, but it’s much more than that.
Downtown is home to colourful murals.
“Jaywalker’s Jamboree hearkens back to the agricultural heritage of the city,” says Sharon Anderson, executive director of the Camrose Chamber of Commerce. “By the first weekend in June, farmers had their crops in and it was a time to celebrate. In the early days, you might have seen bags of sugar and flour at the sidewalk sale. These days you’ll find clothing and other items.”
The Jamboree is a real boost for many downtown businesses.
“It’s exciting to be part of it,” says Daryl Shillington, owner of Sole City Shoes. “I’ve been involved with Jaywalker’s since I was a boy. We usually have about a thousand pairs of shoes out on the sidewalk. For us it’s a chance to clear out stock and replenish it; for visitors it’s a chance to get some great deals.”
In addition to fabulous shopping, there are many other activities going on during the festival. Pancake breakfasts are held each morning and there’s a midway with rides and games for all ages. There are two stages with free live entertainment and a special children’s area with clowns, face painting and other activities. A wide variety of food vendors sell everything from burgers and fries to Ukrainian, Mexican and Asian foods.
“The founding fathers of Camrose had a lot of foresight in developing the downtown core with such wide streets,” Anderson says. “We need all the space we can get during Jaywalker’s Jamboree. There’s a lot going on.”
Early settlers to the Camrose region came primarily from Scandinavian countries and you can still find traces of their culture in the community. The decorative painting on the flower planters in downtown Camrose is a form of Scandinavian folk art known as rosemaling. And just off Main Street, you’ll find Lefse House, a must-stop for any visitor to the city. Its signature product, lefse, is a Norwegian flatbread made with potatoes and flour.
Enjoy some delicious seasoned lefse, made by a local bakery.
Bernell Odegard and his daughter Jane Beck own and operate the bakery and they do such a good job that they are the official lefse suppliers to the Norwegian Consulate in Ottawa. The Bakery and Coffee Shop serves up delicious authentic Scandinavian lunches and take-home bakery goods.
“We might be busier than usual during Jaywalker’s Jamboree, but Christmas is our peak season,” says Odegard. “We ship out two thousand pounds of lefse over the holidays.”
Mirror Lake is a popular spot to see trumpeter swans or just soak up the sun on a park bench.
Top 5 things to do in Camrose:
Walk or cycle through 36 kilometres of paved or shale trails – through the extensive Urban Park system. It runs through the centre of the city following the Stoney Creek Valley. Local trumpeter swans make beautiful Mirror Lake their home nesting along the banks, and several holes of the Camrose Golf Course run along Mirror Lake and the trails. There are parks with modern playgrounds, benches and picnic tables, natural areas left untouched for the wild birds and animals. These trails also link north to south and east to west through the city and feature 54 points of interest.
There’s always a sporting event happening in town. State of the arts sport facilities attract international, national and provincial meets all year long.
Learn a bit about the area’s history at the local museums, open in summer. There’s the Camrose & District Centennial Museum, and the Heritage Railway Station and Park.
The historic Bailey Theatre and the state-of-the art Jeanne & Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre are hopping with live events every week, from live theatre to concerts.
If gaming is more your style, you’ll find 200 slots at the Camrose Resort Casino or the gaming tables.
If you go
Did you know Camrose is home to the beautiful and challenging Camrose Golf Course? While you're attending the Jaywalker's Jamboree, pack your clubs and take in a round of golf. See golf and stay packages here.
See the Jaywalker's Jamboree events in our Festival Overview.
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