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Winterfest wilderness skillet competitions

Winterfest featured several exciting activities that showcased the skills of the great outdoorsmen.
Tea Boiling competitions

Winterfest featured several exciting activities that showcased the skills of the great outdoorsmen. The festival, which was held in the blowing snow, presented awards to the best of those who honed their skills in trapping, tea boiling, and even moose and goose calling.


The scene near the TRCC Snowstage was truly breathtaking. Despite the chilled temperatures and blowing snow, the men stationed there showed their true wilderness Canadian colors as they prepared for an intense Snow Shoe Race. It was a serious match as the competitors ripped off their warm winter jackets and charged ahead in a 50-foot round dash, each one vying for the best time.


The challenge of tea boiling in the blowing cold was next on the agenda, and it was no easy feat. With only a small armload of wood and a bucket of snow, the contestants had to use all their skills to get the fire going and boil the water. It was a true test of grit, determination, and survival skills in the face of extreme weather conditions.


The soon following race went to the trappers, as the winner for the fastest trap setter went to 56-year-old Keith Fortin, who set six traps in under 38 seconds. "Three years in a row when I was only 14, 15, and 16, I won the fastest trap setter and raced 50 miles in 10 hours and 32 minutes. That's almost a five-minute mile for 50 miles," said Fortin. During that time, he was also the youngest competitor to enter and took home most of the awards. His dad was a bush pilot and led a long heritage of successful trappers. "As a kid, I grew up trapping with my father, and with my first sale with my dad, we collected $36,000. My family had the best furs in Manitoba," Fortin added.


Another engaging competition was the Moose and Goose calling.  Carla Robinson; the only female competitor shared in a brief interview after the competition about about her upbringing in trapping and the teachings she received from her dad growing up. "I used to go hunting with my dad all the time. He was a logging contractor, and he always had the opportunity to moose call and showed his kids how to do proper trapping. So he taught me from a very young age!" Robinson said.


Winterfest is not just about competition; it is also about community. The festival brings people together from all walks of life, providing an opportunity for them to connect and share their fun and skillset of the Canadian wilderness. The festival also provides an opportunity for people to learn new skills, such as trapping and tea boiling, which have been passed down from generation to generation.


~Matthias J. Johnson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Thompson Citizen.  The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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