Skaters take to the oval in Head Lake Park during last year’s Frost Fest on Feb. 14. 2020. This year’s event has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Cancellation of February Frost Fest confirmed

By Darren Lum

With outdoor activities such as dogsledding, ice-climbing, and bonfire feasting where the young and young at heart would eat s’mores by a fire, the Frost Festival always brought joy to Haliburton.

Its venue Head Lake Park was often warmed by the many smiles of those who came, bringing light to a dark time of the year. However several weeks before the announcement of the provincial lockdown, which started on Boxing Day, the winter tradition was cancelled.

Dysart’s events and recreation coordinator Andrea Mueller said the decision to cancel this annual event outright for 2021 was in response to the current situation and the restrictions mandated by the province in response to the pandemic.

“We had explored the idea of offering smaller activities located in different parts of the community as part of the Frost Festival, but upon closer examination decided that this would not be the best approach,” she wrote in an email. “Instead, we decided to promote winter activities that people can do with members of their own household, while abiding by the current provincial guidelines.”

The annual winter event always included a variety of attractions for the hundreds that attended.

One of the big crowd draws was the Haliburton and District Lions Club annual Polar Bear Challenge, which not only tested the mettle of locals and visitors with a run or swim in the frigid waters of Head Lake, but it also helped to raise thousands of dollars for the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation and the Hospital for Sick Children.

Lions Club member Jim Frost said the club had already decided before the township’s decision to cancel the event in early December.

“With the concern of using warming/changing sheds for the participants we had decided prior to that to cancel our polar dip anyway – it would not have been possible to run that type of event safely, for sure,” he wrote in an email. “A virtual event was briefly considered, as was an event where participants might do their own dip or ice bucket challenge, but as there could be no control for safety protocols, and the liability attached to this, we decided not to pursue this type of event. We look forward to this event continuing in 2022.”

The township has been encouraging Dysart residents to participate in its Snow Sculpture contest offering a $50 gift card to the winner and a $25 gift card for second and third place.

“We have also launched a Snow Sculpture contest to try and give the community something to do amidst all the shutdowns. The contest is open to households and individuals in Dysart et al. I will be reaching out to recreation staff at the other municipalities to see if we can collaborate and offer a larger scale contest next year that encompasses the whole county,” she wrote.

Mueller said the winner will be decided by online voting. It will be limited to one vote per email address to try and keep it as fair as possible.
Entries can be any size, but made mostly with snow.

Once the contest registration period (Jan. 15 to Feb. 15) closes, the township will post pictures of all the entries and will open it up for voting.

Mueller said the idea came from a discussion she had with her assistant Alyssa Sisson, who created the online platform in the autumn.

“At first we were thinking snowmen and having everyone gather in one spot. Then we started talking about the different communities. We didn’t do much about it and wanted to see how the lights contest went. When the lockdown was announced prior to Christmas, I thought, we need to do something. That’s when I brought the Snow Sculpture idea forward to our Emergency Control Group. They were fully supportive and thought it was a good idea. I really would like to see this grow to be a county-wide event,” she wrote.

Register at the township website For more information email or telephone 705-457-1740 ext. 662.