Saturday, April 19, 2014

‘Festival of Frost’ draws crowd

The first-ever “Festival of Frost” drew a few hundred children, parents, and those young at heart to downtown Fort Frances on Saturday and has been deemed a success by organizers.
As such, the idea is likely to return next year, in one form or another.

“I think it’s an excellent idea. We must have had I don’t know how many hundreds of people downtown,” Robin Payeur of Causeway Insurance noted Monday.
“You would walk downtown and everybody was laughing, kids were running around having a great time—in that regard, I think it was a great success,” she said.
“It was a good, warm, Christmas-y feeling when you walked out there,” Payeur added.
“People were standing on the street corners, talking, laughing.”
Payeur said she thinks the “Festival of Frost” is “a fantastic idea,” and so is closing off Scott Street and having activities on the street all day.
But the idea of a “stationary” parade may be reconsidered for next year.
The number of floats and participants was slightly less than expected Saturday. Organizers were expecting 16 groups to participate, but a couple withdrew at the last minute while a few teamed up with others to have combined activity areas.
Officially, there was 10 groups and businesses participating in the “parade.”
“I think maybe if we have it next year, we do one of two things: we keep the ‘stationary’ parade the way it is, or perhaps we have the ‘Festival of Frost’ with all of the activities and then finish it with a traditional parade,” said Payeur.
“Maybe now people have a little more perspective on it, and if we do decide to go back to the traditional route, they’re more willing to step up and put in a float,” she reasoned.
Richard Boileau of McTaggarts said the “Festival of Frost” definitely brought people downtown.
“Retail-wise, we were busy,” he noted. “We had a lot of people in the store.
“We had a lot of people that we didn’t really recognize—new people, not our regular customers, people that were just downtown looking at what kinds of things we had in the store,” he added.
“It was a busy day,” Boileau reiterated. “Every time I looked out the window, there was people walking by.
“I queried as many people in the store as I could, and the general consensus was everyone was pretty happy with what was going on outside,” he added.
“They wished there was more things but they were happy with what was there and are hoping it will be better, with more events, next year.”
Boileau admitted he talked to a few people who weren’t happy with the event. But those same people also didn’t attend the parade last year, and he reasoned that if they didn’t come out last year, they had no basis for comparison.
“But most of the people I talked to that had young families had a great time,” he remarked.
“They were having s’mores, they were visiting the animals, they saw Santa Claus, and got all the things done ‘little people’ like to do.”
Doug Anderson of Betty’s said he was pleased to see so many different people interacting with each other.
“It was a whole different kind of setting,” he noted. “It was very pleasant, very nice considering not everything went as it should have.
“But there’s opportunities to build from this.”
Anderson said quite a few customers were in Betty’s that day; some if only to warm up.
“I had some good visits with people. . . . It’s like going to the Emo Fair—you talk to a whole bunch of people you just see once a year.
“Now there’s some people I saw twice a year. It’s kind of cool.”
Anderson was particularly happy with the music performed during the “Festival of Frost.”
The Rainy River District Youth Choir and Fort Frances Choraliers performed on the steps of the Fort Frances Museum while members of the Christian Fellowship Chapel sang traditional hymns.
“It really was impressive, the choirs . . . I could see that being the whole focus of an outdoor event,” Anderson enthused.
“The talent is amazing.
“I could see having somewhere in town having a stage, having a choir sing, and having people sitting in lawn chairs,” he added. “You could have a huge crowd.”
Ben Morelli of From the Grind Up said he would have liked to have seen more of the “Festival of Frost” but he was too busy—his coffee shop was swamped with business thanks to all the people downtown.
“Everybody that came in that did have a chance to check out what was going on downtown really enjoyed themselves,” he noted, adding he hopes “Festival of Frost” continues.
“Maybe there’s some changes that are needed but they’ve worked out a good framework anyway,” Morelli reasoned.
‘Festival’ events
Santa certainly was a popular character Saturday. He first attended “Breakfast at the North Pole” held at St. John’s Anglican Church, then posed for “Photos with Santa” in an old-fashioned sleigh in the Fort Frances Museum courtyard.
M.A. Photography took kids’ photos with ol’ St. Nick.
Also making the rounds was classic Fort Frances icon Li’l Amik.
Animals also were a popular attraction Saturday. David Loewen had sheep, goats, and chickens for people to pet while Running Horse Ranch had two rare Ojibway horses—a mare and one-week-old colt—for people to admire.
Several portable campfires were set up for people to warm their bones and, in some cases, roast hotdogs and make s’mores. The Rainy Lake Nordic Ski Club, Pharmasave, Running Horse Ranch, and Christian Fellowship Chapel each had one.
“Go Local,” meanwhile, had a mock-up display featuring smaller version of many of the businesses participating in the program.
NCDS Career Works held a very successful bake sale outside its building, selling many tables full of treats, with all proceeds going to local charities.
Burton Penner of Borealis Dogsled Adventures also was a hit with many, taking families for dog sled rides in the mill parking lot across from the Fort Frances Times.
“Karaoke with The Grinch” took place at 93.1 FM The Border while across the street, Mark’s Work Wearhouse was promoting that business—giving out gift cards to those who could answer Christmas trivia.
“The Story Lady” (Andrea Avis) from the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre was at From the Grind Up to read Christmas stories to children.
The “Friends of the Fort Frances Museum” sold hot chocolate, homemade cookies, and popcorn in the museum courtyard while across the street, members of Christian Fellowship Chapel served up hot apple cider and food.
Meanwhile, Fort Frances Citizens of the Year for 2013—Florence Hill and Jane McLeod—were at Leon’s to meet and greet the public while Curvy Chick had Mrs. Claus visiting that day.
A panel of judges also made the rounds, awarding prizes to several “Festival of Frost” participants.
Winners included:
•Best Church or School Group—Christian Fellowship Chapel;
•Best Non-Profit Group—Running Horse Ranch;
•Best Business Float—Dancemakers School of Dance; and
•Best Recreational Group—Rainy Lake Nordic Ski Club
And new category this year was People’s Choice—decided not by the float judges but the public.
Dancemakers won the award, beating the St. Mary’s Youth Group by a narrow margin.

More stories