When Dave Robinson thinks of the Nordic nations and their people, he thinks of winter done right with lots of enjoyment of the season. The potential to replicate that in Canada – and specifically Kawartha Lakes – has been on his mind now that he has permission from city council to launch a winter festival here.
As Snowshoe Canada president and a local cottager, Robinson was recently successful in obtaining a resolution from city council to pursue the concept of developing an annual winter festival in Kawartha Lakes starting as early as late 2022.
“Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland celebrate winter with lots of fun activities going on. It is really an attitude thing. If you choose to have fun with it, winter becomes more tolerable,” says Robinson.
He says the physical and mental health benefits of engaging in outdoor winter activities “have been proven by many health professionals.”
“It is definitely an advantage to stay fit and healthy during the winter especially during these crazy times,” he says in a media release sent to the Advocate.
Robinson, an avid athlete in many sports including the triathlon took over the operation of Snowshoe Canada in 2015 and has been building it into an organization that supports and grows the sport across Canada.
While COVID has put a damper on organized events for 2021 he hopes to be back at it planning for 2022. The idea of a winter festival has worked well in other parts of Ontario including Peterborough, Muskoka, Ottawa — and the ultimate winter festival in Quebec City, he points out.
“The Quebec Winter Carnival has been a big success for many years and has brought countless dollars to Quebec City while providing plenty of activities to get people out and about during winter,” Robinson says.
Robinson has had several discussions with elected officials and city staff which led to the successful resolution. The Kawartha Lakes Winter Festival will start small with a few activities and slowly grow “as we build the level of expertise,” he says.
Robinson can see pulling off six activities in the first year. This includes a charity hockey game with EMS players and some local ex pros at Lindsay arena. It would be a paid event with a figure skating demo at one of the period breaks and public skating after the game.
He also foresees free public skating at Logie Park, as well as a snowshoe and ice sculptures competition. Other activities might include a night lights outdoor concert with local cover bands, a snow shoe walk or run at Fleming college, and a “Winter-Licious food festival” with several restaurants in town putting up discounted specials all weekend at their locations.
“I see this festival developing as a long-term shared project between the city and local volunteer groups,” Robinson says.
The organizer says there will also be a snowshoe event somewhere that everyone can take part in, noting it’s a “great aerobic activity that is very easy to learn.”