We had been planning Winterfest for several weeks and people were excited. I was getting questions on Facebook, by email, through blog comments, people were dropping by my office and pulling me aside in the street.
It was to be a celebration of winter – of cool snowy weather. We had snowshoes to lend out and volunteers to help people strap them on. We were set up on a short level loop, we marked out a short but hilly adventure course and we planned a 5km walk through the woods. Snowshoeing for every level of ability and ambition.
We had wood split and piled for a bonfire, roasting sticks cut for hotdogs and marshmallows. We had cocao and milk for hot chocolate. We found celebrity judges for the snow sculpture contest and the photo contest. We had prizes for the contests and for Nature Bingo.
On Wednesday we got a lovely 15 cm of fresh snow.
Then Friday it rained. And Saturday’s forecast, the Winterfest forecast, was also wet.
At 4 p.m. Friday the forecast for the morning was “periods of rain” although only 2mm accumulation and +8C for a high.
What would you have done?
Normally, we, the Fundy Erratics hiking club, don’t cancel our hikes for a little rain. Sure less people show up when the forecast is wet, but a hardy core group of us almost always go. And in this case, we still held the hike and 30 people showed up.
But we cancelled the bonfire, hot dogs, marshmallows and hot chocolate… essentially the heart of Winterfest and we cancelled the snow sculpture contest.
I guess my thoughts were that standing around a fire in the rain was not going to be a lot of fun, that fewer people would turn up anyway, and those who did might go away with a bad experience.
Was this the right decision?
I believe part of this game of getting more people outside is showing people that we don’t need to be afraid of rain or cold. Part of me wonders how the day would have turned out if we had just gone ahead with all events. Would people have still showed up? Would they have had an okay experience?
Certainly the weather turned out okay – no rain to speak of. It was a damp, cold in your bones kind of day, mostly overcast misty and foggy up there, the snow was packy and good for snow sculptures….
We were more than warm enough while hiking – would it have been the same for people at the fire or making snow sculptures?
Now we’ll never know and I can’t help feeling like we missed an opportunity to demonstrate that these events can be fun if less than ideal.
On the bright side, with all the promo and excitement, we did get some people thinking about enjoying winter – instead of just tolerating it. And we did have a great hike with 30 people, lots of them new to the Acacia Valley Trails and to hiking with a group like ours.
Please let me know what you think, in the blog comments, by email email@example.com or on the Fundy Erratics FB group.
Jonathan Riley, trails and open space coordinator with the Municipality of the District of Digby