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Cobourg Winter Festival
2012 Cobourg Winter Festival
by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Kevin Stuart
All Sorts of Weather...
It’s often been said that Canadians know how to celebrate in all sorts of weather and that’s certainly evident in the number of carnivals that are held to try to stave off the winter blahs. The town of Cobourg spreads their festivities over three Saturdays in February with plenty of family-oriented fun and it’s all free!
Our family came out on the third weekend which began with the a few hearty souls braving the icy waters of Lake Ontario to raise money for the local hospital with the polar bear dip. Their choice of activity may not be for everyone but their motive is helping a very worthy cause.
The centre of the festivities was the Rotary Park ice rink with music playing from 11am-4pm while many skaters made their rounds. Also in the area, ice carving demonstrations by some of the finest of the craft. The only unfortunate side is that due tp the milder than usual weather, their creations didn’t survive from week to week but it did make each weekend’s displays different.
Playing With Ice...
New for this year were ice portraits which gave anyone who wished a take-home souvenir. Many kids were looking for logos of NHL teams but our son was more interested in his current favourite video game character – Mario. Kudos to the man with the chisel who made it possible.
Inside and Warmth!
When it’s time to take a break from the outdoors, the nearby market building was bustling with cookie decorating and, of course, hot chocolate. Many kids enjoyed making their own snack and savouring the result of their efforts. Colouring was also available for the budding young artists.
Riding The Town...
Back once again were the ever-popular carriage rides providing a view of downtown Cobourg. Even for local residents who may have seen it many times, seeing it from the perspective of a carriage makes it feel fresh.
Family Day Holiday
Holiday Monday brought another tradition with local police facing off against the medical profession in the annual Cops Vs. Docs hockey game to raise funds for the local hospital. It was a friendly rivalry with a few surprises thrown in during intermission. Among them a free skate demonstration complete with costumes and some good-natured fun. Prior to the game, people were asked to register to “chuck a puck” onto the ice with the puck landing closest to centre ice winning a prize. Incidentally, the docs won 10-7.
2008 Cobourg Winter Festival
Don’t Miss This Festival
Just before Christmas we were invited to a major announcement by Lara
Scott, Events Co-ordinator for the Town Of Cobourg. The
announcement/luncheon was taking place at Cobourg’s magnificent
Victoria Hall. The second floor concert hall had been set up for the announcement.
A jazz band, Big Easy 7 (http://www.thebigeasy7.com/),
was on stage to entertain the attendees. Once everyone was settled, Lara
came to the podium on the stage. She was there to announce Cobourg’s
newest festival, the Cobourg Winter Festival.
The festival dates are February 15th to 18th, 2008. For
those of you who don’t remember, Ontario has a new holiday, “Family
Day”, and it falls on February 18th. The new festival is
packed with new and exciting events. The lights from Christmas Magic will
be turned. The opening ceremonies will include the “Acrobatic Fire
Show” and the “Sultans of String” (http://www.sultansofstring.com/).
There will be fireworks, pancake breakfasts, hockey games, ice skating
and much more. Down at Victoria Park will be the Fort Cobourg Ice Maze,
a 30’ Ice Slide, a Treasure Hunt, Ice Canvasses, Snow Shoes, Beaver
Tails and Hot Chocolate. On top of all this, a Harbourfront Zoo will be
set up by the wonderful Ken Jen Animal Stars and Petting Zoo
Ice Carving Demonstration and the “YOU BETTER NOT
MISS THEM”, West Coast Lumberjack Show (http://www.loggersports.com/).
Believe me I have seen this show and it is fantastic! There is much more
I could list for you, but I won’t, it would be just too long! Much
better come to the festival yourself. Judi and I have already purchased
our button, have you? If not, the tourism office at 1-888-262-6874 or
go to their website at Cobourg
Winter Festival. See you there!
NOTE: To kick start the festival, eight Cobourg restaurants
are hosting Savoury Celebrations.
The celebration starts January 22nd and end January 27th. Each participating
restaurant will be offering “prix fixe” meals, ranging from
$20 - $25. The meals include appetizer, entrée and dessert.
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Cobourg Winter Festival
It’s a Family Affair…
The new family holiday in Ontario was the perfect time for Cobourg’s
new winter festival. The Cobourg Winter Festival,
the brain child of Cobourg’s event coordinator, Lara Scott, was
set to coincide with Ontario’s newest holiday, Family Day. A whole
long weekend of fun and activities were planned, animals, lumberjacks,
music, ice, snow and food! It was with this “fun” in mind
that we climbed out of bed early (8:00 AM, well, not too early!!), showered
and then jumped into our car to drive the “long” distance
of 3km to the Cobourg Lions Centre. We were just in time for breakfast
(pancakes and sausages) with 500 plus of our closest neighbours. The centre
was packed with people waiting in line for their turn to be served. The
meal was well worth waiting and was devoured quickly. With breakfast over,
we headed downtown to see more of the day’s activities. Part of
the main street had been closed off for a ball hockey tournament. Two
fenced areas had been set up and players were already in the enclosures
running back and forth, passing and shooting the ball. Great plays were
being made by both shooters and goalies. It was very apparent that everyone,
players and spectators, were having a great time. From the ball hockey
area we headed towards Victoria Hall. This was where the ice sculpting
was going to take place. Along the way we spotted a horse drawn trolley
full of people enjoying the sights of Cobourg and its winter festival.
As we reach Victoria Hall we ran into festival organizer Lara Scott who
was making sure everything was ready for the ice sculpture demonstration.
Shortly after Lara took her leave, the demonstration began…
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Cold and Hot…
The sound of the chainsaw drew us to the front of Victoria Hall. An
artisans from “icesculpture” (Website: http://www.icesculpture.ca)
was preparing blocks of ice for her ice sculpting demonstration. Two blocks
of ice were fused together to become one. As the roar of the chainsaw
filled the air, festival visitors started arriving and began congregating
around the sculptor and her fused block of ice. Soon the block was ready
to be turned into a work of art. To begin, the sculptor made an outline
of the image to be carved on the block of ice. Then the chainsaw made
short work of carving off the unnecessary pieces of ice. As the ice chips
flew in various directions, the outline of the sculpture began to take
shape. It was now time for the detailed carving. This is when the master’s
touch turned plain block of ice into an amazing work of art! The crowd,
as they looked on, was in awe of the craftsmanship of the sculptor! With
the demonstration over and a damp cold setting in, we turned away from
Victoria Hall and walked towards the Seniors’ Centre. As we entered
the hall, we were greeted by the warmth of the centre and the volunteers
in it! We were immediately offered a hot cup of chocolate and some delicious
goodies. We sat down at one of the tables and were served by one of the
friendly volunteers. All of the volunteers made us feel like we were guests
in their home! Other festivals visitors, also seeking warmth were enjoying
the same hospitality. The great room welcomed both weary adults in need
of a place to sit and warm up and families with children who needed to
use the washroom facilities. The centre even provided games and prizes
for the children! After finishing our hot chocolate and goodies, we reluctantly
took our leave and returned to the cold of the day…
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The Kids Loved It…
We were now headed towards the harbour and the Harbourfront Zoo. The
“KenJen Animal Stars and Petting Zoo” (Click HERE
to read Blog article) were in town and ready to greet eager children and
their parents! The KenJen animals are famous for their work in movies
and television, plus according to Ken LaSalle, owner of the zoo, they
are the friendliest animals on the planet! Ken, of course, is not prone
to exaggerate! They certainly are the best behaves, because children of
all ages, are encouraged to mix and walk with the animals. It was a wonderful
sight to see people and animals all mingling together in harmony. It give
new meaning to “Petting Zoo”, perhaps a new name could be
the “Greet and Meet Zoo”. As Judi and I walked through the
tent we were amazed at the variety of animals being presented, a miniature
donkey, geese, pigs, lambs, chickens, ducks, a horse and even a “Kissing”
Llama. You could tell from the smiles and the squeals of delight that
everyone (animals and humans) were enjoying themselves. From the zoo,
we walked east, through the now vacant trailer park, to Cobourg’s
beautiful Victoria Park. The park had been turned into the “Fort
Cobourg Family Fun Zone”! As we walked through the front gates,
we were immediately confronted with “everything” ice! In the
“Fort” we saw people playing “Tic-Tac-Tow” using
giant “X”’s and “O”’s. A little further
along was the ice “painting” wall. Children and adults were
spreading different colours of paint on the wall making psychedelic patterns.
In the centre of the “Fort” an ice “maze” had
been set up to amaze and confused adults and children alike! At the southwest
section of the “Fort” an ice “slide” had been
erected. A long line of children eagerly waited for their turn on the
slide. Each using a plastic sled to glide down the steep incline. Across
from the slide, on the other side of the park, the Cobourg Lions were
handing out hot chocolate and cookies at the park’s Lions’Pavilion.
Fun children’s games were also available. On our way out of the
park we passed children building ice “forts” from blocks of
ice that had been provided for that purpose! Leaving the park, we followed
the crowd to the next Cobourg Winter Festival
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We took the brick walkway that followed the Cobourg shoreline. Lake
Ontario looked black and cold! The beach, which in the summer months is
alive with people enjoying sand and sun, was now bleak and desolate. Now,
only mounts of drifted snow covered the sandy beach. The pier, where Cobourg
residents congregate much of the year to watch sunsets and sailboats,
was closed off, now too dangerous to venture out on. After a short walk
we reached the pier road and headed north to the harbourfront parking
lot. This was where bleachers had been set up for the “West
Coast Lumberjack Show” (Website: http://www.loggersports.com).
There were already several people in the stands, even though the start
of the show was ¾ of an hour away. As the stands filled, the excitement
of the crowd grew as the announcer counted down the minutes. Then the
stars of the show came out and started to loosen and prepare for the show.
Finally the show’s MC took the stage and introduced all of the participants.
The main star and owner of the show, Bryan Couture, welcome the crowd
and introduced Lara Scott, the festival’s organizer. With the formalities
over, it was time for the show to begin! Since there were 2 competing
lumberjack teams, the MC split the crowd in two. Each section to cheer
and support their assigned team! Show owner Bryan pumped the crowd up
by trying to get his side of the crowd to cheer louder than the other
side’s! His antics worked! Both teams competed in a variety of events,
such as: “hot saw race”, “underhand chop”, “standing
block chop” and the crowd favourite, the “axe throw”.
The winners of each event were loudly cheered by their supporters! Even
though the wind picked up and the temperature fell, the crowds stayed
glued to their seats to the end of the show! The excited chatter after
the show was a testament to how much the Cobourg Winter
Festival visitors enjoyed the lumberjack show! Chilled
to the bone, Judi and I walked back to our car and drove the short distance
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