After writing off Saturday as a snow day, Mack and I put on our boots this afternoon, hopped on public transit, and headed to Alberta Avenue to take in the fourth annual Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival.
Follow the path
It was our first time at the festival, as previous intentions to visit never panned out. After this experience, however, it’s safe to say it will easily become an event to look forward to every year.
There were so many things going on for kids and adults alike – both indoors and outside (great planning, given it was –20C with the windchill today). 118 Avenue was closed from 90 to 95 Street to accommodate festivities, which included many roaring warming fires, a street hockey tournament, outdoor performances and cabane a sucre (sugar house)!
On the Avenue
To partake in the Quebecois tradition, I bought a popsicle stick for $2, and waited for a volunteer to pour hot maple syrup onto the snow patted down in raised boxes. It was my first time at this, and pulling and wrapping the maple taffy around the stick in a uniform manner was more difficult than I expected (I’m pretty sure the two kids next to me did a better job). It was a sweet treat!
Pouring the syrup
With my finished product
I was perhaps most excited to check out the mini Alberta Avenue Farmers’ Market, set up inside the Old Cycle Building.
Alberta Avenue Farmers’ Market
Though not all of the vendors were available for this special market, several of the regulars were on hand, including Shooting Star Ranch and The Chocolate Doctors. Johnson Family Farms, a new vendor to Alberta Avenue (they also sell at Salisbury), was also present. They sell eggs, chicken, turkey, pork and beef, and perhaps the most unique – farm fresh butter and cream.
Sharon Johnson of Johnson Family Farms
The Alberta Avenue market resumes its weekly Thursday schedule on January 13, 2011, with new hours: 5-8pm.
The rest of the space was filled with a variety of arts and crafts vendors – everything from photographs, to prints, to mittens made from old sweaters. I was charmed by the monster/city print designs of Whiteout Workshop, and picked up a cute pink coin purse as a result.
Though there were a fair number of people outside (especially given the weather), it was busiest inside the Alberta Avenue Community Centre.
Alberta Avenue Community Centre
There was live music, courtesy of Allez Ouest & Friends, and French Canadian cuisine available from the kitchen. We opted to try their poutine ($6). It hit the spot, and yes, did feature squeaky cheese!
Allez Ouest & Friends
Warmed, we wandered back outside through the Enchanted Forest (bravo to festival organizers for clear signage, by the way), we took in ice sculptures and olde tyme curling, among other things. There was also a hot dog/marshmallow roast available, family snow sculpture carving and outdoor ice skating with free skate rentals.
Mack’s favourite sculpture (check out those teeth!)
We finished our day with a wagon ride (I’m not sure what it is about horses and wagons, but I can’t help myself). We ended up sitting with Marianne and Charles, who were just beginning their visit to Deep Freeze!
Cold, but happy