Mother Nature seemed to send an apology to participants of the 33rd-annual Nestor Falls Winter Carnival over the weekend.
Temperatures hovering just below zero C made the cold of last year’s numbing minus-40 readings a distant memory.
“We couldn’t have asked for better weather the last two days,” enthused Nestor Falls recreation committee member Howard Dodd
“The hall was wall- to-wall with people,” he noted while adding more than 100 participants took part in the fish derby.
A new event introduced this year was the Wacky Winter Wipeout Challenge hosted by Sunset Cove Resort.
“I felt there should be a new event doing outdoor challenges, and what better of a place than on our huge parking lot on the ice and down our plowed ice roads,” noted resort owner Erin Gate.
“It was convenient for people to either take a break from fishing, or come out and watch without having to even get off the lake,” she added.
“We had 32 participants and over 100 people here watching!”
Some of the challenges participants faced included running a half-mile through the deep snow, tossing an egg back and forth across the ice road, and board skiing.
The winners of the Wipeout Challenge were Jorja Pope and Melissa Belluz, followed by the teams of Shay Holden/Selene LeBlanc and Erin Tomalty/Jenny Hammond.
Although none of the events fell victim to the mild weather, some did not run as planned.
“The photo contest was a no-go because there were only two entries submitted,” lamented Dodds.
He also noted the skijoring was cancelled.
Still, there were plenty of other activities throughout the weekend, including a cribbage tournament, blind curling, kids’ games, “Ralphie the Clown,” a ball hockey tournament, and a dance featuring music by “Rockbox.”
Plenty of prizes, fun, food, and socializing also were to be had.
One of the big wins of the weekend went to Jennifer Lougheed, who took home the all-participants’ draw prize—a $500 Visa gift card.
The winners of blind curling were Paige McFadden (Emo), Brooklyn Duke (Nestor Falls), Jocilyn Duke (Nestor Falls), Emily Olson (Nestor Falls), and Macy Holden (Fort Frances).
Thatcher Haggberg of Nestor Falls took home the 50/50 pot, which was held by the Nestor Falls School kitchen.
And the winner of the ball hockey tournament was “The Baboon Bandits” team (Onegaming).
First place in the cribbage tournament went to the team of Renee Dumeney and Joyce Graham (Fort Frances), with the duo of Doris Valliant (Nestor Falls) and Marg Benjamin (Fort Frances) taking second.
Third place featured a tie between Wayne Helliar (Nestor Falls)/Clayton Bye (Kenora) and Makwa Copenace/Kirk Copenace (Onegaming).
When it came to Saturday’s fishing derby, it was Guy Beaudry of Fort Frances who captured top spot in the northern category.
Klyde Laplante (Emo) was second while third place went to Gerry Marcil (Moose Jaw, Sask.)
Chris Frenette (Sioux Narrows) reeled up the biggest walleye, followed by Carol Boissoneau (Sioux Narrows) and Ched Chicago (Chicago, Ill.)
In the crappie division, it was Dave Bonke (Nestor Falls) in first place, followed by Jack Fiset (Devlin) and Harley Read (Kenora).
And Todd Halvorson (Nestor Falls) took top honours in the trout division, followed by Lonnie Nielson (Emo) and Adam Andrews (Stratton).
When it came to the big prizes for the participants’ draw for the fishing derby, Erin Gate (Nestor Falls) won the “Big Boy 6” hunting and fishing shelter sponsored by Helliar’s Resort.
“I want to thank all the businesses and sponsors who help make the event such a success,” said Dodd, adding a big thanks to everyone who came out and those who stepped up to help organize.
Dodd admitted there was a time earlier this year that the committee was unsure whether it would host the annual winter carnival due to a lack of volunteers.
“Once again, members of the curling club, Sioux Narrows/Nestor Falls Fire Department, and the Nestor Falls Flyers hockey team came forward to help organize the event,” he noted.
A number of local residents also stepped to the plate, he added.
“It’s something we’d really hate to lose,” Dodd stressed, noting he’s been involved in the winter carnival for the past 20 years.
“It’s brings out a sense of community,” he reasoned.