No winter carnival in Milford this year

Pedalling on the pond -Bicycle rides and other games on the Milford millpond were a tradition at the winter carnival.. (Jason Parks/Gazette staff)

Unpredictable weather has recreation committee looking for new ideas




This weekend, blades won’t cut through the ice on the millpond in Milford. Beds won’t be cutting across the snow-covered terrains, nor will bicycles glide around the fairgrounds. South Marysburgh’s annual winter carnival has been cancelled.

A lack of volunteers isn’t the culprit — as it has been in the death knoll of family friendly fun in other communities lately — nor is the impending construction of a divisive wind turbine project. The finger is being pointed squarely at Mother Nature.

“The last few years have sort of been a bust,” said South Marysburgh recreation committee member Bruce Dowdell. “The weather keeps changing and we decided this year we weren’t going to do anything. It’s so up-and-down.”

After organizers cancelled the 2010 event to redirect funds to the Haitian earthquake relief efforts, planning over past seven years has been anything but an easy ride for organizers. There have been years when bitter cold and high winds have made it tough for participants to stay outdoors. Often, those were followed the next year with temperatures rendering it too warm to use the ice effectively. Winds even made it tough to count on a giant inflatable igloo as a venue for family events and games to take place.

“Only a couple of them were successful,” Dowdell said. “The best carnivals have been the ones we’ve had on the ice. The fairgrounds didn’t quite cut it.”

A fireworks display also used to be a highlight of the weekend, but Dowdell said it became increasingly costly leading up to 2010. The last time there was a fireworks show, it cost about $3,000. The recreation committee has a $5,500 allotment for its activities, so that 10-minute attraction was eating a lot of the budget annually. Dowdell revealed the recreation committee had been considering creating an artificial rink on the baseball diamond at the fairgrounds, but that required an investment and a commitment from volunteers to regularly flood the surface and could still be impacted by a warm spell.

“We have to sort of reinvent the wheel as far as it goes for carnivals,” Dowdell said. Instead of the traditional late-January gathering, Dowdell said the recreation committee is considering alternative programming in February that isn’t weather dependent. The annual community bingo night at Milford Town Hall, which has often served to kick off the carnival will likely be held again. There might also be some community programming at Mt. Tabor.

Dowdell is hopeful some activities may take place on the millpond for Family Day weekend, but that will depend entirely on weather. The committee was to meet Wednesday night to discuss its options.