Carp Winter Carnival has history on its side

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

CARP – The third Carp Winter Carnival is only four days away, but the relatively new event is steeped in the history of the Huntley community.

The Huntley Community Association (HCA) revived the winter carnival in 2020 and was held in February, just weeks before the entire country shut down due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, like all public events, was cancelled in 2021, but undaunted, the volunteers of the HCA brought it back again in 2022.

Both events were a success for the community and the HCA, and the volunteers are gearing up for another big weekend starting Friday (Feb. 17).

HCA board member Sarah Johnston is entering her second year as a director, and is the niece of well-known West Carleton historian Charlene Johnston. Sarah is organizing the kids games that will be happening Saturday (Feb. 18). Sarah remembers her time as a kid at the original winter carnival, an event that dates back more than 100 years.

“The kids’ games on the outdoor rink have been a tradition at the fair for some time,” Sarah told West Carleton Online last week (Feb. 9).

Sarah says her aunt shared some archived news articles on the winter carnival with her, and she found them endlessly fascinating.

In 1911, The Carp Review published an article on that year’s carnival and specifically the masquerade party that was a part of the event.

“A huge hit,” Sarah reads. “Storybook characters of all creations.”

Sarah’s grandmother, like all the Johnstons, was a community volunteer and leader, who in her time helped fundraise for the Huntley Community Centre outdoor rink built sometime in the 1970s.

“She died young, I never met her,” Sarah said. “Two years ago, when she would have turned 100, I joined the HCA. That was my tribute to her. Community service is in our blood.”

In the not too distant past, the community events such as the winter carnival and the Carp Fair were key hubs in the community.

“Those were the only times family and the community got together,” Sarah said. “That’s why they were so looked forward to. Carp is a very small, tight-knit community.”

Sarah is in charge of the on-ice kids games at the Carp Winter Carnival. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has not been cooperating this week. Unseasonable warm weather has already closed West Carleton snowmobile trails and outdoor rink this week.

While the weather won’t cancel the winter carnival, HCA volunteers are already pivoting to ensure the activities, especially kids’ activities, will be held in some capacity.

“We still want kids to come,” HCA member Judy Makin told West Carleton Online today (Feb. 14). “We still have hot dogs and drinks and treats. Sarah will still be organizing events for kids to participate in, it just might not happening on the rink.”

The Carp Winter Carnival is free to attend. Proceeds from the canteen and spaghetti dinner help offset the costs of this event. The most recently published schedule of events has not been updated to include changes due to weather, but events will be happening at all the venues during the times published.

While kids are encouraged to attend, so is everyone else. Events are geared to all ages and all groups, including a new Pub Night at the Carp Mess Hall (2240 Craig Side Rd.)

“It’s for everybody, not just families,” Sarah said.

You can find the schedule or events for the Carp Winter Carnival here.

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