Winter Fest Celebrates Uptown
The Brandon Community Sports Complex was packed with hundreds of visitors Saturday for the inaugural Winter Fest — an event designed to help residents get active during the coldest time of year.
Winter Fest was a free event designed to showcase the north end of the city and the winter activities and amenities available to residents, said Katey Rogowsky, programmer for the City of Brandon’s North Hub.
The day included free sleigh rides, live music, fire pits, hot dogs and hot chocolate, a hike on the Native History Trail, snowshoe rentals, swimming and skating.
“It’s just a way of bringing people together to celebrate winter and get out and be active … during the sleepier months of the year when we typically spend a lot of time in our homes,” Rogowsky said. “It’s a way to get people out, get them moving, and celebrate the cold winter weather.”
Winter Fest marked the first large-scale event organized by Rogowsky in Brandon. This was accompanied by a focus on highlighting as many cold-weather activities as possible, she said.
She had a list of race ideas for Winter Fest and designed the day around potential COVID-19 public health measures, weather and budget.
Planning for the Winter Fest began in the fall, and the event was originally scheduled to take place in late December — first it was postponed due to extremely freezing temperatures, then the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant.
It was fun to bring the different activities together and find ways to help build community connections in Wheat Town, Rogowsky said.
“It was so awesome to see the excitement in people’s eyes,” Rogowsky said. “Seeing our community come together, especially here in the north – sometimes we don’t have a lot of events going on here and especially at the Sportsplex – so it’s great to showcase our facility… see people taking risks, making memories, and coming together with that sense of community here.
Indigenous storyteller Dannelle Morrisseau led the Story Trail hike at Hanbury Hill during Winter Fest. The hike took between 45 minutes and an hour, she said, adding that she takes her time with groups as the trails are steep and she wants to be careful and make sure people are not overworked.
Periodic stops are made during the walk so participants can rest in a comfortable place and learn intriguing tales and exciting Morrisseau stories.
“It’s an Indigenous-led history experience,” she said. “A lot of the stories I tell are our kind of folklore, the creation myths that surround my culture.”
It was fun to introduce people to these classic tales from his culture.
Morrisseau is a Cree Métis Nation woman from Treaty 2 territory. She explained that the stories she shares with attendees focus on folk tales from her country. She added that she also shares stories that she has personally written.
The majority of the stories are tales that Morrisseau grew up with and found intriguing as a child.
“There are stories about why our leaves leave for winter, how man came to Earth. The only story I tell is based on a personal story that happened just before I was born,” said said Morrisseau “My grandfather told my mother that I had no right to go to a place called Pisew Falls, which is located in the north, and the mysticism that surrounds it.”
The cautionary tale led Morrisseau to create the story of a girl who goes on a hike, gets lost on her journey leading her to encounter a pisew (Lynx in Cree). The pisew guides her home, but on her journey home, the girl encounters a great spirit who wants to take her back to the falls and keep her there forever.
Creating the story course was a fun and unique experience. Morrisseau began designing the initiative in December – the original walk was scheduled to take place in late 2021, but was canceled due to extreme weather conditions.
A future Story Trail hike is planned for the end of February. Morrisseau hopes to continue Story Trail activities in the spring and summer.
For those interested in participating in a Story Trail walk, Morrisseau said three things are essential: dress warmly, come with an open mind, and be prepared for a rigorous hike in the snow.
Brandonite Kobe Lim brought his easy-going, laid-back tunes to the Winter Fest outdoor stage.
The musician had fun performing in front of guests, he said, despite the freezing temperatures.
He’s had limited opportunities to perform in front of a live audience for the past two years and relished the opportunity to pull out his guitar and bring his sweet tones to the audience.
It’s been over two years since he’s had the opportunity to perform and engage with crowds like he did at Winter Fest.
Lim enjoyed performing and the people he worked with because of the friendliness and kindness the organizers brought to Winter Fest.
“Honestly, I think whatever the circumstances, whether it’s in the cold or not, as long as I have the chance to do it now, it’s fun. The chance to play is few and far between, I’m happy to play,” Lim said.
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