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'Share ideas and resources': Organizers for Wascana Winter Festival want closer relationship with Frost

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As dozens of families turned up for carriage rides at this year’s Wascana Winter Festival – organizers say they hope for collaboration with REAL's Frost Festival in the future.

Visitors to Regina's Wascana Park were treated to the sound of horseshoes on pavement as carriage rides circled in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building Sunday.

Jim Macfarlane’s Clydesdales have ferried families at the Wascana Winter Festival for the past three years.

“Well we got Mike and Ace here,” he said, referring to the pair of horses at the front of his carriage. “They’re pretty famous old lead team off of an eight horse hitch. They’ve been everywhere and done everything and they’re just a couple of the good old ones.”

The pair had their work cut out for them as dozens of families lined up to get a ride and enjoy the mild winter weather on Sunday.

Macfarlane said there’s always one type of passenger that’s sure to enjoy their time on the carriage.

“The kids. The kids. Always the kids,” he chuckled.

“People just laughing non-stop and wanting to pet the horses. Which we do allow,” he added.

The festival has had to undergo a steady recovery since the pandemic – which was a death sentence for many community oriented events.

One constant – even through the pandemic – were Macfarlane and his horses.

“We kept the sleigh rides going as we’re doing today. That was the best we could do really with social distancing and all that sort of stuff,” explained Bob Friedrich, interim chair of the festival. “We just tried to do an event every year now we’re into a four day event.”

Another returning element of the festival was a demonstration of “snow cricket,” which as the name suggests, is cricket in the snow.

“We just put a demonstration here and whoever wants to participate can participate. Its fun because cricket is always in the summer. Its never outdoors any other time so we thought we’ll do it in winter,” President of the Cavalier Cricket Club, Richard Singh, told CTV News.

According to Singh, people introduced to the sport always have the same first question.

“They always ask us how long the games are, and they range,” he explained. “Eight hours in the summer, that is standard. Actually that is short,” he chuckled.

Singh said the demonstrations his club hosts offer an introduction into a sport many people in Regina might not be familiar with.

“It’s a sport that’s not in the schools so it’s something good to learn. It teaches teamwork and more about community too,” he explained. “It’s just something different and that’s what we focus on because it’s not offered anywhere and it is the second most popular sport in the world.”

The finale of the Wacana Winter Festival for 2024 will be a pair of performances of Li’l Shadd by the Regina Symphony Orchestra at Holy Rosary Cathedral, in honour of Black History Month.

While speaking about the future of the festival, Friedrich said he wants more collaboration with Regina's other well known celebration of the winter season.

“Next year we’d like to have a very collaborative relationship with Frost,” he said, referring to REAL's Frost Festival.

“We’d like to maybe run our festival from one Monday to another and if they want to do things like they were – the time before. I’d like sit down and talk with them and see how we can share ideas and resources.”

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