Surge in warm weather melts skating trail, cancels some Festival du Voyageur events

The recent surge in warm weather in Manitoba has closed Winnipeg's popular river skating trail and canceled some Festival du Voyageur events.

2 fractured ankles at Festival du Voyageur site on Saturday, city says

The warm weather has melted some of the snow sculptures at Festival du Voyageur but it hasn't dampened the spirits, organizers say. (Samuel Rancourt/Radio Canada)

The recent surge in warm weather in Manitoba has come with a catch for Winnipeg's popular river skating trail and Festival du Voyageur.

On Saturday, paramedics were dispatched to the festival site around 2 p.m. to help out a man who had fractured his ankle slipping on ice, a city spokeswoman said.

The crew hadn't left the scene before they were flagged down to assist with another person with a fractured ankle, although the spokeswoman couldn't confirm if that injury was caused by icy conditions.

A spokeswoman for the 10-day Franco-Manitoban festival said she wasn't aware of the injuries on Saturday afternoon.

​The Red River Mutual Trail is closed until further notice and staff at The Forks have asked people to stay off the ice until the weather cools down again. 

Skating rinks at The Forks also closed Friday and are now shut down for the season.

The closure comes after several parts of Manitoba including Winnipeg hit record highs Friday. Winnipeg reached 3.2 C Saturday, just shy of a record. 

Cancelled, delayed events at Festival du Voyageur 

While Festival du Voyageur kicked off its 48th celebration Friday night, some events have already been cancelled due to the warm weather.

After the Red River Mutual Trail closed, the festival had to cancel Rendez-vous on Ice, which was scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday. 

Winter Pride was also cancelled but the after-party will continue. Fashion on Ice has changed locations and will take place at the Johnston Terminal stairway at The Forks on Sunday but the Discothèque on Ice, which was supposed to happen after, has been cancelled.

Organizers at Festival du Voyageur are working hard to deal with the giant puddles that have come with dropping temperatures. (Radio Canada)

Monday's Wild Winter Canoe Race has also been cancelled.

Slippery conditions are also causing trouble. On Saturday, paramedics were called to the Festival site to help a man who fractured his ankle while slipping on ice, according to a city spokeswoman.

While they were there, they had to help another woman who flagged them down. She also had a fractured ankle, although 

"This spring-like weather has made for difficult choices for all of us. River authorities have closed the river trail due to safety concerns … concerns we share and support," said chair of the organizing committee for the race Karen Menkis in a news release. 

For more information on closures or changes visit the festival website

"It's hard. Obviously some things are going to melt but we are going to do our best throughout the day to keep people from slipping with sand and grit," said director of operations Jean-Luc LaFlèche. 

However, even though some events have been cancelled and some ice sculptures have melted, the party will continue, said Charles Brunet, who also works with the festival. 

"This is the spirit here. This is it. This is the ultimate winter party," he said.

"We have fun no matter what." 

Erwin and Rose Mary De Luna came all the way from San Antonio, Texas and say that the weather still feels cold to them. (Radio Canada)

Erwin De Luna came all the way from San Antonio, Texas with his wife, Rose Mary. 

"It was much colder than we have back in Texas, particularly when the wind starts to blow," he said. 

While Winnipeg's warm winter brings the De Luna's chills, they said the festival experience has been amazing. 

"I just think it's the excitement of seeing everyone moving around and the different events and activities," he said. 

Warm weather dampens Northern Manitoba Trappers' Festival

There will be no mushing at the Northern Manitoba Trappers Festival. The third day of the World Championship Dog Race held in The Pas had to be cancelled out of safety concerns for the dogs.

The annual event draws thousands of people and the biggest highlight is the sled dog race but this year there's water and grass instead of snow. Sonny Lavallee, the chairperson of the event, said those conditions are too hard on the dogs. 

He's been involved with the event since 1980 and said this is the only time he can remember it being cancelled.

"It's Mother Nature and I think maybe she thinks she's trying to help us out by making it warm here but, you know what, a lot of people are out," he said. 

"We've got thousands and thousands of people out to watch all our events, so that way it's a good thing."

The festival was also forced to cancel its snowboard competition, but changed it into a skateboarding and BMX event.

"Instead of trying to fight against mother nature we may as well just work with it," organizer Jerome Conaty said.