Winterfest provides opportunity for Friends of Sandbanks

WINTERFEST FUN-Maea and Matai Andrews of Toronto tried snowshoeing at Winterfest hosted by The Friends of Sandbanks at Maple Rest Heritage House on Monday afternoon. (Jason Parks/ Gazette Staff)



Those who were winter weary and looking for a rest didn’t have to look past Maple Rest and Sandbanks Provincial Park on Monday afternoon.

WINTER TUNE UP- Friends of Sandbanks Committee members Mark Despault and Fraser Hardman entertain at Winterfest on Monday. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

The Friends of Sandbanks hosted their annual mid-winter get together at Maple Rest Heritage House on Family Day and over 100 people drifted in and out of the 150-year old home that was purchased by the Ministry of Natural Resources and has served as a summer rental for visiting tourists since 1999.

Hot chocolate and bowls of chili fuelled patrons and supporters who took part in scavenger hunts and snowshoeing although rain dampened outdoor activities somewhat.

Friends of Sandbanks Chair Mark Despault could recall a time when Winterfest was virtually the only event on the Family Day weekend however it was now part of a busy slate of activities as part of the Heritage Week in Prince Edward County.

“We find this event is really great to get new members and introduce them to what the Friends of Sandbanks do for our provincial park,” Despault said.

The Friends of Sandbanks were incorporated as a not-for-profit charity in 1993 undertake specific projects and initiatives such as providing educational and interpretive publications, maps, audio-visual materials and other appropriate items related to Sandbanks Provincial Park.

The volunteer organization encourages and supports further research of Sandbanks Provincial Park’s natural and historical resources for public information as well as to protect and restore these natural resources as well as supplements and enhances existing park educational, interpretive and recreational programs.

We compliment the naturalist program and from an infrastructure point of view, we’ve been able to help with tee planting and the Dunes Trail,” Despault explained. “The Friends of Sandbanks basically raises money and that money goes to where the park isn’t getting funded.”

Several years ago, the Sandbanks’ Management Plan identified the need for an interpretive trail through the dunes system to help protect its fragile environment and the Dunes Trail provides education on the formation and natural ecology of the area and was one of the first major projects for the newly-formed Friends of Sandbanks.

Among the first time visitors to Maple Rest was Hannah Luviano who was visiting Prince Edward County from her native this weekend.

As her children Etienne and Elsa played turn-of-century games in the sun porch,

We saw that it was happening on face book decided we would come and check it out,” Luviano said.