Hey! Ho! Let’s go...
No, no, no. I’m not talking about going to a Ramones concert. I’m talking about Festival du Voyageur!
This year Winnipeg’s annual winter festival — whose main base is Voyageur Park at the end of St. Joseph street in St. Boniface — celebrates its 45th anniversary in style from Feb. 14 through Feb. 23.
There are basically two teams of employees that work together to set up the festival, maintain the park during the event and then take down the entire party when it’s done. After speaking with John LeMay, lead hand of the Festival park maintenance crew, I was filled in on this year’s details.
Each year the park is set up in a slightly different way, for various reasons. This year there will be two ice bars, compared to one in past years. Legal-aged ice enthusiasts can bask in the warmth of campfires, sitting on hay bales as they sip delicious beverages from their ice glasses at their ice tables. They’ll even be able to check out the hockey game on a large projection screen. Traditional foods such as maple syrup on a stick, poutine and pea soup will be available for your feasting pleasure.
To reduce lineup waiting times for its main concert tent, Festival will raise a tent that has never been erected in a Canadian winter.
With the help of a "zoom boom" lift, the park crew will raise and attach two ‘saddle-style’ tents to create an extra-large double tent. If you’re looking to stay warm and listen to great music this MTS tent will definitely be one of the places to visit.
The snow sculpture competition is always a Festival favorite and this year it will be outstanding.
I know this because the sculptures this year will be made with an abundance of all-natural snow compared to a couple years ago, when artificial snow had to be made and shipped in by the truckload. There are many blocks already awaiting their carvers, who come from all over the world.
The main block, which will be a combination of several blocks, will be a spectacular sight. At this point I cannot reveal the details although I can tell you that it will be approximately 65-feet long and 20-feet high. Other sculpture blocks can also be found in and around the St. Boniface area.
This year the Festival’s snow maze will be replaced by two snow castles at which the children can play. Tobogganing down the big slide is also fun and there have been improvements made changing the snow slide to a rectangular shape from a half moon in order to prevent possible accidents.
Check out the Festival du Voyageur website at festivalvoyageur.mb.ca for admission prices, event locations, hours of operation for the park, activities and the full schedule of events.
If you’ve never been to the Festival, in my opinion, it’s a unique experience that you should definitely check out at least once.
If, like me, you get hooked, you may find yourself looking forward to the middle of February.
Dan Sylvestre is a community correspondent for Fort Rouge.