Hé-Ho! Festival du Voyageur ready for another year

WINNIPEG — It’s almost time to say, “Hé-Ho” once again. Festival du Voyageur’s opening ceremonies get underway on Friday evening.

The long running winter event features all sorts of voyageur fun, from live musical performances, to fiddling and beard growing contests. This year there will be a lot more room to take in the musical acts, with the big tent being bigger than ever. 

“We’ve upgraded our Bell MTS tent to fit 1,100 people,” said Darrel Nadeau, executive director for Festival du Voyageur. “That’s up from 650 people last year, so that’s the first thing people are going to notice when they come to the park.”

Another thing festival-goers will see are the massive snow sculptures. Each year, teams from around the world come to Winnipeg to turn the blocks of snow into works of art. For the first time this year, a team from Peguis First Nation was invited to create a piece. 

It’s a first for the community and a first for sculptor Wayne Stranger, who normally works with Bronze.

“You’re melting it down at 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Stranger. “To go now with this medium of snow which is minus 20 or 30? It’s quite an extreme.” 

His piece is called ‘Return from the Mountain’ and tells a story of how knowledge had become scarce and the buffalo went into the mountains to protect it. 

“We’re of the time now when the buffalo is bringing the teachings back from the mountain to us,” said Stranger. “So that’s what this (sculpture) is a version of.”

Festival du Voyageur runs from Friday Feb. 14 through to 23.