The 23rd Annual Winter Who-ot took place on the weekend of March 9-11 and Kim Stephen, perennial chairperson of the organizing committee, thinks it was one of the more successful festival’s the local group has put on. And she should know… both Stephen and fellow committee member Wilma Pockett have been around for all but four of them.
"I think it is one of the better Winter Who-ots that we've had,” said a relaxed Stephen. “Mostly because we've added so many new things this year.”
Some of the new items and events launched at the 2012 Who-ot were the purchase and implementation of a new bouncy house, earmarked exclusively for the use of children four years of age and under. As well, the committee purchased 60 feet of crawling tunnels. In respect to events, they put on a well attended spaghetti supper, a magic show and the “Bubble Man.” “We also brought back a photo scavenger hunt,” explained Stephen. “The scavenger hunt had five teams and we haven't had that many for a long time.” She added that the group had 268 people at the spaghetti supper. “It was a full house,” said Stephen. “I haven't seen the community hall that full in a long time. And we likely could have sold 50 more tickets that day.”
In addition to the new, there were standby events that experienced somewhat of a revival. Stephen says that they had seven teams take part in the human curling, whereas in the past few years they’ve been lucky to muster enough bodies to hold the event. “We actually didn't even hold it last year because there was only one team,” she said.
Nevertheless, with all that was good about the winter festival, there were some stressful moments caused by an all-too familiar predicament. “We need more workers,” Stephens noted bluntly. “There were three of us trying to do it. We did have Tammy (Leaman), Donna (Fulmore), and Margaret (Fulmore) come and do the supper. YaK (Youth Activity Kouncil) did the outside obstacle course and Community Pride Committee did the photo scavenger hunt and the pie eating contest. It's just too much for the few of us.”
Stephen says that when she does ask people to lend a hand, the reply she usually gets is, “Well, I might be out-of-town, or I might be here or there.”
You can hear the frustration in her voice when she talks about the small numbers of those willing to come out and lend a hand. “Come on,” she says! “This is for your kids, it's not for me!” Stephen notes that the festival will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in two years and that both she and Pockett will be done with it at that point. “For the kid's sake, I think there are a lot of people out there who could get off their duff's for an hour or so to help out. That's all it takes if everyone works together.”
But then her aggravation turns to adulation. “There actually were some who really helped out … those new people Charlene and Kris Mercereau,” says Stephen. “They were lifesavers. She (Charlene) came in here on Monday or Tuesday the week of the Who-ot and said I hear you're the one who looks after the Winter Who-ot… what can I do? Well, we gave her jobs and honest to God, lickity split, they were done! And the day of the Who-ot, she and her husband worked all day, set up, tore down, cleaned up… took all the lights down, they did everything. Without people like that, you just can't do things … and these are new people to this community … where are all the Snow Lakers?”
Notwithstanding the lack of physical support, the festival fared much better in the area of contributions. They received a massive amount donation wise from a myriad of businesses and organizations. They also received numerous donations from area businesses. In total, Stephen feels there was very near $10,000 in donations this year! “We had 84 prizes in the penny parade and there were 50 or so door prizes,” said Stephen.
Even though money donations on the whole were down this year, Stephen noted that Hudbay chipped in with $1,000, Dumas Contracting handed over $1,500 and Joey Werbicki gave the group $500. Stephen says that they haven't got all the finances figured out yet, but she figures when the smoke clears they should have $2,500 to $3,000 in the bank for all those new volunteers to work with on next year’s celebration!