The annual winter festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Festival du Voyageur, began on Friday February the 15th with a torchlight walk over the Red River. The festival runs for a total of ten days with numerous different events. The program can be found here in English and here in French.
More than a hundred artists are set to perform at the Voyageur Park and 10 other sites around the city. There are popular jigging and fiddling workshops. This year will be the 44th year of the Festival. The Festival is a sign that winter will soon be over. However, there is no problem with melting so far this year. The ice on the river was plenty thick for the traditional torchlight walk. As you can see from the attached videos, snow sculptures are also a big part of the festival. The weather has cooperated for this feature as well.
Other shows include a Louis Riel look-alike contest. Riel was born in 1844. He was the founder of the Province of Manitoba and a spiritual and political leader of the Metis people on the prairies. However, he mounted two rebellions against the Canadian government and was hanged in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1885.
There is also a beard growing contest. The Festival Beard category participants started their beards back on December 13th and will be judged on February 22nd. Many of the beard growers collect donations which will go to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. There are various categories of beards including the Voyageur Beard category that is wild and woolly, and the Novelty category such as a groomed moustache or beard.
There is also plenty of French Canadian cuisine at the Festival, especially on February 21 and 22, at the Soiree du Bourgeois that includes entertainment in the Maison du Bourgeois inside historic Fort Gibraltar.