Friday, August 1, 2014

‘Snoasis 2’ draws crowd of families

Many local families wrapped up March Break on Saturday by participating in “Snoasis 2”—billed as a day of fun activities at the Lions Park hosted by the Friends of the Fort Frances Museum.
“It was a bona fide success,” enthused “Friends” president Duane Hicks.

“We were all excited to see the first family drop by, and then they kept coming and coming for the next hour-and-a-half to two hours,” he noted.
Activities included a “Frosty toss” ball throw game, ice bowling, and smoosh boards races.
The Rainy Lake Nordic Ski Club, meanwhile, offered a chance for youngsters to try out cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The club also had a campfire—complete with all the fixings for s’mores.
In conjunction with “Snoasis 2,” face-painting, cookies, and hot chocolate, in addition to a special “Storytime,” were held at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre while a toonie swim and skate went at the Memorial Sports Centre. A total of 456 people were at the library Saturday, around double the norm, while 30-40 kids came out for the skate and 50 went for a swim.
Also at the Lions Park, free hotdogs, which were cut into spirals and dubbed “Auger Dogs,” were cooked and served.
As well, people brought along ice “bricks” that they had frozen in two-litre milk cartons and children enjoyed working to build a “fort.”
“The idea was to have a community project, where families could freeze their own ice blocks and then bring them to help build something together,” noted Hicks.
“I think it went very well.
“It’s true that the ‘fort’ ended up being three short walls, with the main north-facing wall being only six bricks high,” he conceded.
“But those children and volunteers who helped build it undoubtedly had a blast doing so,” he remarked.
“There were kids who made a bee-line to the wall, their arms carrying as much ice as they could, saying, ‘Where can I put my brick?’
“They showed a sense of ownership in a group project,” Hicks added.
“I couldn’t help but smile.”
Hicks estimated 200 people attended the family fun day, indicated they had a supply of 100 hotdogs and those were gone in the first 50 minutes.
“It took quite a bit of preparation, and hard work on the day of, to make it a reality but it was totally worth it when you saw those smile on the kids’ faces,” he enthused.
“I was told by two different people that some children were so excited about ‘Snoasis 2,’ they could not sleep the night before.”
Hicks said the success of the event was determined, in part, by the weather, which ended up not as mild—or cold—as it could have been.
“When we started planning this event in January, it was frigid,” he recalled. “February was no better.
“So we thought we were safe by mid-March, in that it would be warm enough for people to be outside but not so warm the snow and ice would melt.”
Hicks added the timing also was chosen to coincide with the end of March Break.
“However, one week before the event, the temperature started to rise and some people, myself included, were stymied in their efforts to freeze ‘building blocks’ to be used to build the ‘fort,’” he noted.
“It was way too warm to freeze them outside.
“And then, the temperature plunged and the wind picked up between Friday and Saturday morning,” Hicks added.
“Fortunately, this didn’t seem to stop people from coming out Saturday afternoon.”
“I was at the library for most of it, and felt that the cookies and hot chocolate were a big hit,” said museum curator and “Friend” member Sherry George.
“And the young ones love face-painting!
“Our one student volunteer, Lita Lockman, couldn’t keep up with the demand,” George noted.
“I stepped in to help and despite having no artistic talent, found that the kids were still pleased as punch with the results.
“I asked everyone if they had been over to the park. Most had,” George added.
“They especially liked the chance to try out the skis and snowshoes.”
Given the success of this year’s event, the group is looking to carry on the tradition next year.
“At least one person said to me Saturday that they would like to see ‘Snoasis’ go on and become an annual event in Fort Frances—something people mark on their calendars and look forward to year after year,” said Hicks.
“They [said] it was so nice to see parents and children together and interacting in an open, loosely-structured and fun environment.”
“I believe there is a need for a winter event,” agreed George.
“It was mostly young families who attended so I think we’ve targeted the right group.”
Hicks thanked fellow “Friends” members Samantha Manty, Sarah Marusyk, Mandy Lahti, Caron Cridland, Pat Basaraba, Robert Schulz, and George, who worked at the event.
He also gave a tip of the hat to Sue Fletcher and Debbie Ballard, who were among those who baked cookies.
Organizers also were helped out by family members, who either volunteered at the event, went out and got last-minute supplies, transported the barbecue, and more.
The event also was supported by local businesses and services, not to mention families of “Friends” members.
Daryl’s Custom Landscapes, for instance, cleared snow at the site while Canada Safeway donated buns and condiments for the hotdogs.
“We have some terrific supporters and I can see ‘Friends’ wanting to do it again next year,” Hicks remarked.
“But I also feel that in order to make ‘Snoasis’ bigger, better, and sustainable in the long-run, other community partners will have to come aboard,” he stressed.

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