By Bonnie Harris
When I was a kid – Starting out that way is sure to make a lot of people mentally review their escape routes. But bear with me, this story is about our town as it is today. So. When I was a kid, we played outside more, all four seasons. For one thing, there was less to do inside. Our chief entertainment was arguing over whether to watch Lassie or Roy Rogers. (Yes Beth and Billy, I remember that I always lost at rock-paper-scissors, and I do still think you cheated.)
Now, though, getting kids outside to play in the winter requires bribery and a week's pay for ski gear and passes.
That's one of the reasons I'm so happy, proud and even downright delighted to be part of Family FrostFest here in Bobcaygeon. This was our second year and I for one am hoping it becomes a long tradition.
When I joined Impact 32, FrostFest had not yet been concocted. Then, one meeting, we happened to be tossing around ideas for off-season events and attractions. We don't know how long Carly Poole had been ruminating about the idea or whether it just popped into her mind. . . but she soon got us all starting to think about the possibility of a snow sculpture event, one that would help families get outside and celebrate Family Day weekend.
What the heck is a snow sculpture anyway? I googled it when I got home.
We couldn't see any downside. It fit right into our mission as a group because it would boost Bobcaygeon in a way that benefitted residents, tourists and visitors. It also fit right into our budget which, as you may know, is zero. We're a not-for-profit, and any money we raise is earmarked for community projects like building more dock space so boaters can park and stay awhile and help Bobcaygeon prosper.
We got to work on the details. Ann Adare came up with five games that kids could play in the snow. Carly and Catherine Pentiricci designed gorgeous signs and posters. Tom and Wendy Hunt and Kawartha Coffee made it possible for us to offer free hot chocolate to everyone. Several Impact 32 volunteers said they could probably make enough cookies.Trent Severn Waterway allowed us to use their land and building as headquarters. Carol Kimmerly and Nicole Campbell got excited about bringing mascot Bobbie Constellation to life. I started talking it up to newspapers, magazines and radio stations, snowballing them with media releases and pleas for free coverage. It began to look like we were going to make it happen.
What could possibly go wrong? Well, weather of course, but luck was with us and Family Day Weekend blew in with enough snow and even lots of sun.
We ran FrostFest for all three days of the Family Day weekend that first year. It was an unbelievably happy and uplifting time. One look through the photos and it's plain to see. Kids were outside having fun with their families. Small groups of adults really seemed to be getting into it. Friends and neighbours and strangers were chatting and sharing shovels. We served gallons of hot chocolate, hundreds of cookies, and exhausted our volunteer selves climbing over snowbanks and running around trying to make everything work out for everybody.
Later at the FrostFest de-brief, everyone agreed that we had to keep doing this. And we also all agreed that one day would be just as wonderful, and not as hard on our tired legs, as three. We committed to another year.
Family Day weekend 2018 dawned and we again got lucky with snow and weather. Our preparations had been less nerve-wracking. After all, we flew by the seat our our snow-pants last year and it was glorious, so this year we didn't lose as much sleep wondering if anyone would come.
Come they did, and – could it have been even better than last year? I think so! Almost as many people came in one day as in three days last year. We had about the same number of snow sculptures and people were again amazing us with downright jaw-dropping works of frozen art.
We followed the same recipe for success as last year with minor tweaks. Shakers Restaurant and Tim Hortons came through with the coffee. We ladies baked cookies and were helped out by nice local moms as well as by a contribution from realtor Kelli Lovell, and by Amanda Pascoe who made beautiful and delicious frosted snowflake cookies. We ran Ann's games again, and added a new bolo game hand-crafted by a new volunteer, Cheryl Burgess. Our trusty photographer again dedicated her time and talent.
New memories were made this year as we all showed our Bobcaygeon Love at the new arch made by the Impact 32 beautification team.
Our Stakeholder Chair, Catherine, added a new touch of brilliance in the form of the happiest little Video/Dance Challenge you'll ever see. Watching it, you're witnessing real Bobcaygeon-style family fun and you know it.
Will we continue with FrostFest? I think so. There's something right in it. It's for everyone, and it's free for everyone too. What's not to love?
Here's to next year. May our future be filled to the brim with hot chocolate and cookies, and especially with that most Canadian of all essentials – plenty of good packing snow!
This year's Impact 32 FrostFest volunteers:
Interested in joining the team? Impact 32 welcomes new volunteers.