Spring-like weather isn’t ideal for the Bon Soo Winter Carnival, but organizers for this year’s 61st annual edition weren’t caught completely off guard by the absence of abundant snow and seasonably chilly February temps.
Tuesday night, for example, was Hot Sauce Wing Night at Northern Brewing Co’s Tap Room. It’s a second-year Bon Soo event that shows signs of catching on and building a tradition of its own.
“Last year, for this event, we had 55 people,” says Josh Ingram, Area Coordinator for special events and sports tourism for the City of Sault Ste. Marie. “This year we added two seatings which we didn’t have last year. The Sno Bath last year drew 70 people, this year it was 200. We want to find out what the community likes and we’ll keep doing it year after year and watch it grow.”
While the carnival’s staples like Bum Slides got an unfortunate bum steer from Mother Nature and her no-show snow, indoor events were part of the planning for this year from the outset.
“We needed (more) events that were not weather-dependent,” Ingram says. “You can sink a lot of money into a weather dependent event and you’re going to have some trouble if the weather isn’t cooperating with you.”
Local entertainer Tim Murphy was MC for the evening and was later joined by Mr. Bon Soo, who hammed it up and mingled with guests and was seen sampling some wings himself.
The Esquire Club supplied the wings and a Mill Market vendor had the sauce. Diners on Tuesday night could sample five different hot sauces and purchase a bottle if their taste buds discovered that special one.
Besides creating indoor event options, says Ingram, organizers also aimed to balance offer events covering a more complete age range.
“Bon Soo was created by the Chamber of Commerce 61 years ago to be an economic driver businesses in quieter quarters of the year,” Ingram explained. “February is typically dark and cold and very difficult. We all remember when Bon Soo was for everybody. Snow Spike and Snow Maddness were events for adults. We wanted to re-incorporate entertainment for people 19 and older at Bon Soo.”
Ingram says carnival officials are paying close attention to events that work vs those that don’t. The idea, he says, is to re-grow the carnival by understanding what people like most and then delivering it to them.
“We figured, let’s listen to the people buying the passes and try to be really cognizant of what they enjoy,” says Ingram. “We want to keep building on the positive feedback. Maybe some other events will go dormant. Tonight, we’re bringing together three businesses, to give them a boost and also give our community something fun to do.”
Ingram added that careful planning has ensured there’s not one carnival activity zone will have to be shut down this year due to adverse weather conditions.