Super Saturday for Gravenhurst Winter Carnival: more to come

Photos, story Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Sunny and cold, fun and friendly.

That was Day 4 of the Gravenhurst Winter Carnival, the fullest, busiest time for outdoor lovers of the five-day annual festival.

The wind was whipping on the lakes both sides of the main street in the morning, as snowmobilers were the first ones up and out.

Vintage snowmobiles filled Cockburn Square Saturday where antique and classic boats filled the space last summer.

At Gull Lake they’d already cut a 50-metre hole in the ice long enough for almost all of the machines to skip across the open water in a puddle-jumping competition.

And there was a long lineup to boast they beat Rick Mercer’s feeble nationally-televised attempt from few carnivals back.

Across town on Muskoka Lake, the vintage snowmobilers were more sedentary, unless of course you were on the lake at West Gravenhurst, where sleds raced the clock in radar runs.

Uptown, where much of the action was, the Doggie Dash got off to an early and quick finish with some 20 dogs or so.

The Lions kept busy from 8 a.m. inside the Opera House, grilling up pancakes with maple syrup, before the reptile petting zoo took over the Trillium Court.

Lions Bud Leonard and Dave Durant brave the cold out back of the Op cooking up flapjacks.

Then it was time for the popular bed race, which had four teams get out of bed – and into bed – for an interesting race this year.

Instead of a quick dash back-and-forth in the block in front of the Opera House, they had to push their creations up to the Bethune Bistro corner, stop read a (lame business pamphlet) “bedtime story,” rush back a block to the Rombos intersection for a quick slurp of water and to the start-finish line mid-block.

The Anglers junior hockey team took the top two spots (the A-team winning it all), with their two bare-minimum bed frames. The Muskoka Monsters Inc. won the consolation final (and best-looking bed), over the Muskoka Watershed bed.

The Muskoka Monsters were deserving of their prizes and more. They were a team of cousins from Hamilton, a fun bunch who were staying on Acton Island for the weekend and took advantage of all the events.

They deserved a spirit award.

Gravenhurst Anglers players race their bed up Muskoka Road in the first heat. One of their two teams was the overall winner.

Around town there were other events, including at the Gravenhurst High School, where Minecraft students were trying to build a digital town; the Presbyterians cooked up hearty chilli and mac & cheese, Skokie’s Funland had kids games on Muskoka Road, and the donut eating saw kids endlessly munching at the end of a string.

A dart tournament was on at the legion, poutine-eating at the Oar, and butter tarts were available at the Shipyards.

The Rotary nail-driving and sawing contests drew lots of participants young and old — including 79-year-old Julie Alexander (“I’ll be 80 in June), who hit the nail on the head.

And the polar-bear dip drew a huge crowd as more than a dozen brave souls were in and out of the water faster than they could yell — “Ahhh! That’s freezing.”

Saturday night a carnival dance at the Centennial Centre Terry Fox Room warms things up with a Havana Night theme.

Sunday the fun continues with legion pancakes, more radar runs, Skokie’s Birthday Party 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the YMCA, where there’s also free skating and a swim at noon, a demolition derby at the Severn fairgrounds at 2 p.m. and the awards ceremony at 5-7 p.m. at Boston Pizza, followed by fireworks.

On Monday’s Family Day most of the action is at the YMCA, with morning pancakes, parent & tot play, a magic show at 11:30 a.m., skating at noon, family pickle ball at 12:30 p.m., basketball and a sledge hockey game at 2 p.m.

For more details pick up a brochure and a carnival button.

See more photos below and elsewhere later on

Gravenhurst Anglers players suit up their rider at the start of a very interesting bed race this year that included reading and drinking water.
Rachel Hrinkania and her dad Brian line up for Lions pancakes, which kept the dozen service club members busy 8 to 11 a.m.
What’s your secret pancake recipe Lions Marjorie Lewis and Nancy Durant? They wouldn’t budge, but we know it was great.
Lions Sandra Topham and Leslie Soucy offered complimentary smiles with each pancake.
Jasmine Monseque and the Girl Guides helped the Lions with their pancake breakfast.
Rotarian Valerie Johnston looked great selling $5 carnival buttons, which are still available for the final two days on Sunday and Monday.
Doggie Dash participants and their owners pose for team photo after.
Run for the hills, it’s the biggest dog in the race. But there were plenty more running its paw prints first thing on Saturday morning.