Snowball taking over Dorset

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While winter is looking a little different in Haliburton County this year, organizers of the annual Dorset Snowball hope the popular event breathes new life into the season.

A full slate of activities has been lined up Feb. 16 and 17 as Algonquin Highlands township prepares to celebrate the Family Day long weekend. Staffer Sandra Rogers, one of the organizers, said this is always a big deal for the community.

“The main focus of Snowball is to provide family-oriented entertainment, to make Dorset a destination and to bring the community together for a day filled with winter activity and fun,” Rogers said. She noted it has been held annually since 1991 and usually attracts around 1,500 people to Dorset.

Friday evening, from 6 to 9 p.m., there will be a skating party at the Dorset Rink, weather permitting. Rogers noted if the ice is in poor condition, there will be a community dance party instead in the parking lot at Centennial Lions Park.

Saturday morning kicks off with public skating at the Dorset Ice Palace from 10 to 11 a.m. (again weather dependent). As usual there will be a parade, starting at the Dorset Garage at 10:30 a.m. and finishing at the Dorset Recreation Centre. This year’s theme is ‘Winter Wonderland’, Rogers said. Anyone wanting to participate can register a float by emailing recreation@algonquinhighlands. ca by 4 p.m. Feb. 16. The town crier and local dignitaries will then host an opening ceremony.

One of this year’s feature presentations is the ‘Great Canadian Lumber Jack Show’, with three shows Saturday at 11 a.m., 1:30 and 3 p.m. at Centennial Lions Park. Rogers said that will include chainsaw carving, axe throwing, underhand chopping, crosscut sawing and chainsaw and hot saw races.

There will also be face painting, public skating, games, a campfire, and snow maze for people to enjoy at the park until 4 p.m.

The parking lot at the Dorset Recreation Centre will be a hive of activity, with family games like Connect 4, human foosball, and beat the buzzer available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Emes Family Maple Syrup will also be on hand, offering free taffy to people. Virtual reality dogsled tours, hosted by North Ridge Ranch, will be available at noon and 2 p.m.

A hockey shoot out is happening at the Dorset Ice Palace from 11 a.m. (helmets mandatory), with children’s fun and games in front of the Royal LePage building starting at 11:30 a.m. Cardboard toboggan races will be happening behind the fire hall from noon, pre-registration and helmets are required.

Wildlife caller Steve Morrin will be at Centennial Lions Park at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Hailing from Powassan, Morrin has a special relationship with most critters indigenous to northern Ontario, his website states. He will walk the audience through animal noises and sounds, and help identify a host of specialty items and their purpose.

There will also be live music at the park, with Ottawa-based rock band Junkyard Symphony bringing its talents. Performances are scheduled at noon and 2 p.m.

Snowball concludes with Hockey Night in Dorset at 6 p.m., where the public is invited to show their support as the Dorset Hounds take on Lake of Bays for the Dorset Cup.

Carnival entry buttons are $5, which grants access to all events. Children aged two and under can attend for free. Rogers noted the north entrance of Main Street from Hwy. 35 will be closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 17. She said people can access Main Street via Hwy. 117 or Harvey Avenue. Limited parking will be available at Robinson’s General Store and the Dorset Parkette.

Dorset Heritage Museum will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with warming stations at Algonquin Highlands Fire Station 60 and Dorset Ice Palace change rooms. For more information, visit dorsetsnowball. com