There was something for everyone in seven days of action-packed fun at the Sucker River Winter Festival 2022, held between March 28 and April 3.
Although they’re aware the pandemic isn’t over, Coun. Devin Bernatchez, said, the decision was made to bring people together after two years of being told to stay indoors, and avoid gathering or visiting other people.
It was an opportunity to get residents out of their homes and participate in youth, adults and elder events throughout the week.
“This was an opportunity to get community members together from all communities, Stanley Mission, La Ronge … to have fun and laugh. It was the biggest highlight,” Bernatchez said in an interview with the Northern Advocate.
Organizers took the proper precautions to keep everyone safe. All events were drug and alcohol-free.
A highlight of the week was horse and sleigh rides.
“We brought the guys from Muskoday. They gave rides all day for kids,” Bernatchez said. “The kids really enjoyed having Monty and Major in the community. They were just excited to see horses.”
The event included a Children’s Festival with bouncy castles, face painting, games of chance with prizes for children, basketball.
There was also Bingo for a Van.
“It was a 2005 van that we had in the community and we were willing to part with, so we called it the Bingo Van,” Bernatchez explained.
Other events included a Crib and Whist tournament with 29 players. There was a family night where families came to the hall and played different games such as musical chairs, did some jigging, had a dance competition.
There was a Fish Derby “in promotion of diabetes awareness.”
A Pool and Dart tournament went into the early hours of the morning, “probably 1:30 in the morning,” Bernatchez said.
On Friday there was a Chilli Cooking competition with 10 entries.
“They cooked up their biggest pot of chilli and bannock or a bun and they brought it to the Sucker River Band Hall. We had three judges that judged the chilli on its taste, its texture, smell, what did it look like? And all the chilli was sold to the Poker Rally players.”
Approximately 77 players gathered in the hall for the event.
There were ski races for youth one day. Pancake breakfasts were served on three mornings, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
There was also something new for this year’s festival – a poker rally. The rally was intended to be held on the lake, but ice conditions were unpredictable.
“We thought it wouldn’t be safe to have people out with skidoos, so we had it in the community,” Bernatchez explained. “We had five check points in the community so people could walk, skidoo or drive their truck. We sold 300 hands and that was a fun event,” Bernatchez said.
One event, held outside the community, was a Broomball Tournament held at the Lac La Ronge Indian Band’s (LLRIB) Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre (JRMCC) with four teams, two from La Ronge, one from Hall Lake and one from Sucker River.
On Saturday night there was a talent show with 28 competitors, including, guitarists, singers, a dancer “you name it.”
On Saturday night there were also two adult events: a Drag Queen and She’s the Man competitions.
Even with melting snow, there was a snowman building competition.
The week ended with King and Queen Trapper events, tea boiling, axe throwing,fish filleting, jigging and buckskin, along with the Emily McKenzie Memorial Fish Derby with more than 120 fishers.
Only two events, the snow sculpture and Fastest Skater event, were cancelled because the outdoor rink melted two weeks before the Festival.
The festival was an opportunity to build some community spirit and volunteerism.
All turned out well for the festival with beautiful weather.
“We were gifted with last week, beautiful weather for all our events” and all were drug and alcohol-free.
“We don’t promote alcohol sales,” Bernatchez said. “Family members can have fun without it.”