Bon Soo winter carnival 'back with a vengeance' after 2 years of COVID-19 restrictions

After two years of COVID-19 restrictions the Bon Soo winter carnival in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is “back with a vengeance,” according to a festival organizer.

The annual winter carnival in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., celebrates its 60th year

Mr. Bon Soo is the official mascot of the Bon Soo winter carnival. The festival celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. (Supplied/Robin McDonald)

After two years of COVID-19 restrictions the Bon Soo winter carnival in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is "back with a vengeance," according to a festival organizer.

The carnival celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and manager Jeany White said people can't wait to get outside and enjoy a variety of winter activities.

"I believe that after COVID, people are looking forward to coming out, to be with their friends, fireworks, all the different things that we have to offer," White said.

The carnival kicks off Friday night with a fireworks display. White said this year's event will have a mix of new and returning activities for people of all ages.

A design for a button with a mascot in a red Santa costume.
The Bon Soo button for 2023 celebrates the winter carnival's 60th anniversary. (Submitted by Jeany White)

Some returning favourites include a snow carving competition, "bum" sliding and a polar bear plunge in St. Marys River.

"Generally they go out on the ice and they jump into, it's a big hole kind of thing," White said.

"But it's an actual cage in there so you don't get lost under the ice or anything like that. So it's safe."

New events include an electronic dance music (EDM) concert from the roof of the Northern Superior Brewing Company's building, some stand-up comedy shows and a performance by mentalists called the Sentimentalists.

"We're making sure that there's something to do for every demographic every day during our festival," said Josh Ingram, the area co-ordinator for Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.

Every year Bon Soo hands out buttons, which act as a festival pass. Ingram said this year's button has a diamond design to recognize the 60th anniversary.

"The button is a synonymous tradition," Ingram said. "It's so much better than a ticket pass because it's right on your jacket and very visible."

Bon Soo runs from Friday, Feb. 3 to Saturday, Feb. 11, this year.

The frigid Northern Ontario temperatures we've come to expect finally hit this week - just in time for winter carnival season. Jonathan checked in with Sault Ste. Marie's popular annual festival, Bon Soo, as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

With files from Bridget Yard and Markus Schwabe


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