Monday, 20 February 2012

Timberfest: Mardi Gras in the Ottawa Valley

We're thrilled to welcome Vanessa Van Decker to the team as a blogger. Here at TEDxAlgonquinPark, one of our goals for the organization is to engage the younger generation in building this great community, and Vanessa is already emerging as a community leader. We think you'll enjoy her first piece on Barry's Bay Timberfest, and we're looking forward to hearing more!
In many cultures there is a last hurrah  before the fasting of lent begins and in the Ottawa valley, Timberfest is our version of mardi gras . This past weekend, Feb. 16-20, people flocked to Barry’s Bay from near and far for the Timberfest celebrations.
     On Thursday the winter festival began with a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the arena. MPP John Yakabuski, Mayor David Schulist and Phil Conway chopped the ribbon with an axe. Shortly afterwards the Miss Timberfest Pageant began. Twelve beautiful Ladies vied for the title of miss Timberfest and in the end Emily Weatherbed, the student council president from Madawaska Valley District High School was crowned Timberfest Queen.

     Meanwhile, Thursday evening on the ice surface was a different scene. The Barry’s Bay midget Bears faced off against Renfrew in a game of hockey. Over the weekend many hockey games were played at the arena while lumberjack competitions were held outside. Lumbermen faced off in events such as ax throwing and chair carving to prove their skill. Many community members also participated in nail driving competitions. If none of those activities interested you there was also a mechanical bull ride, snowmobile runs, horse-drawn sleigh rides, balloon twisting and a live band.
     A beavertail stand was open selling delicious steaming pastries to satisfy hungry visitors. The line up was usually long because everyone wanted a taste of the delicious treat. We moved along quickly coming making friends with those near us in line along the way. Beavertails originated in Killaloe, and as you can imagine the Killaloe sunrise, topped with cinnamon sugar and lemon, was a popular choice on the menu this weekend.
     The ski hill, Madawaska Mountain was buzzing with activity for the Timberfest Celebration. There was a large crowd of skiers and boarders who took advantage of the sun and snow on Saturday and Sunday. It was a great weekend to be at the ski hill.
There was also a community festival in Killaloe on Saturday night including family skating, outdoor activities and a moccasin dance.
      Many university students who were home for reading week and adults who took advantage of family day weekend came out to the festivities. This winter festival was a great place to catch up with friends and family or meet someone new. Timberfest has something for everyone and is a wonderful Ottawa Valley celebration. Those who come from near and far know it is the place to be on family day weekend.

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