The rural community of Castor was a busy place over the weekend of Feb. 10-12.
Castor welcomed the full-scale return of WinterFest, a long defunct community activity.
Planned in under a month, a smaller-scale event returned in February of 2022 with some success.
Kicking things off on Feb. 10 was a sponsored and memorial fireworks show put on by Castor’s own SkyArt Entertainment, followed by family Bingo at Gus Wetter School afterwards.
The 2023 edition of the event, with significantly more planning time, saw the return of several fan-favourite events on Feb. 11.
Returning events included snow-sculpture carving. Main Street was adorned with three displays, one in front of Cornucopia, the “Penguins of Madagascar” in front of the Vision Credit Union and a purple platypus in front of it’s namesake, The Purple Platypus. Away from main street, sculptures could be found all over town as well.
Winner of the snow carving was Eric Neilson with his mini Cabin on the Coulee!
Also returning in 2023 was the chili cook off!
Between the Legion, Paintearth Lodge, and several other locations on Main Street, 22 entries took part in the chili cook off. Winner of the chili cook off was Amanda Bateman, though Gus Wetter School won the People’s Choice Award.
A pair of ice carver’s made the trek to Castor from Saskatoon, carving ice sculptures at the Paintearth Lodge and at the Legion. Be sure to check them out before they melt!
Inside the Legion, a number of people were set up with their chilies, as well as a bench show with individuals showcasing their winter squash!
For the senior’s winter squash royalty competition, Angie Boxma took first place with her Mongolian princess inspired squash. Shelly Pals won third place with her WinterFest Queen, which used material from the original WinterFest Queen’s cape. Diana Boxma won the adult category, and Farrah and Bristol Bonin jointly won first place in the junior category.
In the best winter squash bench show, Abby Boxma won the Junior Category, Diana Boxma won the adult category, and Rosalyn Garnet won the senior category.
As for the largest squash presented in the show, Sadie Boxma won the junior, Diana Boxma won the adult, and Angie Boxma won the senior categories.
“The reason we did a winter-squash bench show is because winter squash aren’t usually ready at our regular fair time in August,” said event organizer Diana Boxma.
“And also, because winter-squash are a survival food that keep all winter, which is a great representation of our prairie resilience.”
Overall, there were 36 entries into the winter squash bench show from 25 individuals.
Castor’s own Anthony Holland and Stettler’s own Trailer Park Queens provided entertainment over at the Castor Community Hall throughout the day on Feb. 11, providing a back-drop to the farmer’s market running through the afternoon.
Near the Castor Elevator, a Cowboy Camp was setup complete with tent and hot chocolate. According to Boxma, the camp was also new in 2023 and “rave reviewed” thanks to the support of wood and fire pits by the County of Paintearth, and the Town of Castor who cleared snow from the area.
Helping people get around all the activities on the Saturday were a pair of horse-drawn wagons. The wagons were operated by Keith Erion and Greg Boxma.
Over on Main Street, The Purple Platypus hosted local author Jenna Cole for a book-signing.
Cole is promoting her recently-released second novel, The Widows’ Pact, which was also available for purchase.
While not as busy as Saturday, Sunday had some opportunity for people to get out and about as well.
On Sunday morning, a pancake was held at the Castor Community Hall with proceeds being divided between the Busy Beaver Daycare and the Castor Food Bank.
At noon, the community was invited into the Castor Evangelical Missionary Church (EMC) for a community potluck.
Later that evening, the EMC invited the community back to the facility for a Sacred Concert and Hymn Sing to close the weekend.