‘Wonderful’ Winterfest draws crowds to ODAS Park (8 photos)

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“This event shows light at the end of the tunnel,” says the Moonstone man. “It’s nice to do something outside and get that sense of normalcy back”

Families in Orillia gather today for fun and winter fun at the third annual Severn Winterfest at ODAS Park.

This year’s event is very special, said event chair Chad Cooke after the 2021 event was canceled due to the pandemic.

“There’s a ton of interest in this year’s event,” Cooke said. “I think people are very ready to come out and feel more normal.”

Cooke says community response to the event so far has been positive.

“People are spreading the word about this event more than I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a really good day.”

Masking is mandatory for indoor activities, but there is no protocol for outdoor activities, Cooke notes.

Highlights of the day are the Demolition Derby, which starts at 1 p.m., the Polar Bear Dip which starts at 4:30 p.m., and the Ice Bar, which is open all day until 10 p.m.

“I think the biggest thing people are looking forward to is getting out of the house,” Cooke said. “It will be a beautiful day to enjoy the fresh air.”

Ian Culbert and his son Duncan made the trip from Moonstone to enjoy the cooler on Saturday morning.

“We’re here to enjoy the great outdoors,” Culbert said. “We enjoyed the cooler and now we’re heading to the slide.”

Culbert says Duncan can’t wait to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate during today’s festivities.

“This event shows some light at the end of the tunnel,” Culbert said. “It’s nice to do something outside and get that sense of normalcy back.”

The Housser family, who live just down the street from ODAS Park, were visiting the ice cream bar after enjoying the pancake breakfast.

“We’re excited to try the slide today,” said mom Lorna. “I’m very excited to go on the bouncy castle,” Lorna’s daughter Hannah added.

The Housser family say it’s “wonderful” to be back in the community after months of pandemic isolation.

The event costs $10 for an adult, $5 for school-aged children and is free for children five and under. All funds raised from the event will go to the Orillia Agriculture Society and will also be directed towards next year’s event.

“It’s the Agricultural Society that puts on this event and maintains these grounds,” Cooke explained. “They have the fall fair and a ton of other events.”

Cooke also encourages community members to join the Severn Winterfest Committee to keep the event going for years to come.

“I know the Perch Festival was just canceled because there were no volunteers or sponsors,” he said. “We were shorthanded. I think we have a decent number of volunteers today, but we were short-staffed to build it all up.

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