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McCall winter carnival will begin seeing changes

In 2024, the carnival will be held during a three-day period in February due to the extreme influx of people.

MCCALL, Idaho — The McCall Winter Carnival, held annually, will span a 10-day period in January to February of next year in 2023. In 2024, it will become a shorter three-day period.

The new theme for 2023, according to a news release, is  "Fairy Tales, Folk Tales and Tall Tales" and it will be the return of the Mardi Gras parade. Over the years, the release said, the carnival brings more than 60,000 visitors to a town of 3,500.

Rapid growth is happening in McCall, however, prompting small changes to the carnival. Some businesses have decided to shut their doors during the carnival rather than face extreme crowds. 70% of businesses supported either shortening the carnival to one weekend or moving it later in the winter, the release said.

"Because the crowds have swelled to such unmanageable numbers, many business owners, including myself have expressed concern over whether Winter Carnival has outlived its usefulness," says Cori Rice, who owns the Christmas Shop and Silver Linings retail stores in downtown McCall, in the news release. "Additionally, with staffing shortages that all businesses are experiencing, recruiting staff to commit to a ten day stretch of chaos has been problematic, if not impossible."

The carnival being canceled due to COVID-19 in 2021 also gave more insight on the businesses in the small town. January and February lodging tax collections increased 22.66%, the release said, despite the lack of the carnival that year.

According to the Chamber in the news release, all the feedback is the reason for why the town will now be moving the carnival to the three-day period in 2024, on Feb. 23-25. In 2025, it will be held on Feb. 21-23.

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