The citizens of Elkford slipped on their winter boots and threw on coats to participate in fun-filled activities at this year’s Winter in the Wild festival. Running from February 14 to the 16, the event is a long-standing Family Day tradition for Elkfordites, bringing the community together to revel in winter activities while raising funds and awareness for the range of activities, clubs, teams, and resources offered in Elkford. Some of the organizations participating this year include the Curling Club, Nordic Ski Club, Rod and Gun Club, and the Snowmobile Association.
“It’s about fun, family, and getting out doing things together. It’s the middle of winter, and it just breaks everything up,” said Joan Hemmes, a local proudly celebrating her tenth Winter in the Wild.
The excitement began on Friday with a public swim, an open skate, and a highly anticipated evening fireworks show. Catering to people of all ages and abilities, the festival offered a wide range of activities in varying intensity levels, both for indoor and outdoor enjoyment.
“It’s about family; getting together with family and friends,” said Lori Borys, convener of the Sno-Pitch tournament. “I mean, Elkford is friends. Everybody knows each other. It’s a community, so we all get together and have fun!”
Festivities continued throughout the weekend with a pancake breakfast at the Community Centre on Saturday, followed by hockey games and a family snowmobile ride. Nearing noon, a variety of other laughter-inducing activities began, including the annual Sno-Pitch tournament. In this energy filled event, teams faced each other in outdoor slow-pitch games, making for an exciting afternoon of diving into snow banks, blasting music, indulging in homemade chili, and tailgating by a campfire.
“The people that are in this year are the first to be invited back next year. We’ve had just about the same teams every year, for nine years,” said Borys about the popular event.
Of the more comical events of the festival was the infamous turkey toss: a staple of Winter in the Wild where partakers attempted to curl with a frozen turkey.
“All of the money raised from [the turkey toss] goes towards Elkford Junior curling,” mentions Carmen Murray, coordinator of leagues for the Curling Club. Murray also noted how the turkey toss helps to expose people to curling for the first time, in the hopes of sparking a passion for the sport.
The family snow sculpture contest started on Saturday, where mounds of snow were dumped in Riverview park waiting to be molded into everything from rockets to bears.
Also bringing the community out of their homes on Saturday was the ball drop, a chance for participants to win up to $3000 by selecting the ping pong ball that would land closest to bullseye when dropped from a hanging box.
For those preferring to celebrate indoors, there was also a winter craft fair at the Community Conference Centre, Elkford’s Housing Society ran a Toonie Tea Social, and the Aquatic Centre put on a Day Disco Dance pool party.
Whether celebrated indoors or outdoors, on a lawn chair or with hands dug into the snow, this year’s Winter in the Wild surely brought smiles to many faces in Elkford.