The Fort Richmond Midwinter Festival that began four years ago as a response to a rash of vandalism in the neighbourhood was simply colorful earlier this month.
Held on the space between Acadia Junior High School and the Fort Richmond Collegiate ‘big hills’ the festival was organized under the banner of the two schools and Pembina Trail School Division. It pulled a huge crowd and a very sizable support from community and corporate organizations.
It was indeed a family festival as children, parents, grandparents as well as uncles and aunts shared in the fun of sleigh rides, cross-country skiing, photography, cultural events, candy scramble, tobogganing and winter-art with creative painting of colours on white snow.
Hot dogs, popcorn, S'mores, hot chocolate and much more never stopped flowing. The Salvation Army truck was a huge blessing as it was a living fountain of hot and timely chocolate that kept everyone warm. Over 500 children, youths, young adults and adults were in attendance despite the biting cold, enjoying the awesome rhythm of the blaring music.
The winter art section was magical as children and adults demonstrated super artistry in painting with colours on the white snow. Co-ordinator Julie Fowles proudly said, "You can tell what we do here — the snow art is special."
In the words of Acadia vice principal Jacqui Kroeker, "the volunteers who assisted with making the Midwinter Festival happen are truly inspiring."
She praised Donna Maxwell, a community member and employee of Pembina Trails School Division for demonstrating outstanding leadership, ensuring a seamless coordination of such a huge event.
Along with the staff of the two hosting schools, many partners played outstanding roles to plan and co-ordinate the festival, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Healthy Child Coalition and the Southlands Community Church, which provided food and hot chocolate free of charge for the fourth year in a row.
Donations in kind were made by many businesses. The beautiful toques and scarves for all volunteers were provided by The Gates on Roblin. Other donations in kind were made by Shoppers Drug Mart, C & T Rentals, Energy 106 FM, Pembina Trails School Division and the South Winnipeg Photo Club.
Cash donations came from Coun. Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) and the Winnipeg South Federal Liberal Association as well as the schools parents' associations. Also, grants from Neighborhoods Alive and the province of Manitoba came in handy to defray the costs incurred so that the festival can be free of charge for everyone.
Kroeker concluded, "This event is vital to our community because it brings people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds together to embrace the winter wonders of Manitoba."
Sunday Olukoju is a community correspondent for Fort Richmond. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.