Hike Haliburton gets wintry
A snowshoeing-based spinoff of the Hike Haliburton Festival to be called Hike Haliburton Festival: Winter Edition will send snowshoers out into the woods of the highlands next winter.
Members of the Haliburton County tourism advisory committee discussed the creation of the event during a Jan. 9 meeting.
“I’d really like to link it to the Hike Haliburton brand, just because I feel like it’s already got so much brand value, people are familiar with it, it’s in its 17th year, it’d be a very similar audience,” county tourism director Amanda Virtanen told committee members.
While there has been some discussion of including “snowshoe” in the title of the event, “I’m kind of leaning toward a winter theme, just in case we were to get not great, or horrible rain,” Virtanen said, emphasizing that using a winter theme would provide more of a catch-all.
It was Virtanen’s recommendation that the event take place Jan. 24 to 26, 2020, to coincide with the Ontario Cup, a sanctioned snowshoeing race that will take place at Abbey Gardens. The race is also taking place there this winter.
Virtanen said along with the race, the Ontario Cup includes other wintry activities.
“I think people will know, based on this year, they can come and bring their families and do other things, so that’s why I think it makes sense,” she said.
Like Hike Haliburton, its winter incarnation would consist of a number of guided hikes at various locations throughout the county.
The Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships also typically take place in the county on weekends in late January and early February, and Virtanen said depending on scheduling, that could also offer an opportunity for co-promotion.
“I see your point about co-promoting, but I think there’s more potential for conflict, personally,” said Algonquin Highlands Deputy Mayor and County Warden Liz Danielsen, adding she thought that might create too many events for one weekend in the winter. “I wonder if it isn’t going to split things up too much.”
“The other concern I have is the accommodation limits we have in the wintertime,” said Dysart et al Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy.
If the suggested date was going to change, Virtanen stressed the event should still take place close to the Ontario Cup.
“I think it should be on the weekend before or the weekend after though,” she said, “because I think we really should still tie it to the snowshoe race.”
Virtanen said the tourism department would also like to start promoting the event as soon as possible.
It was ultimately decided that further options on dates would come back to the county council table later this month.
A report from Virtanen included a number of options for festival names, including Hike Haliburton Festival: Winter Edition, Hike Haliburton Festival: Snow Edition, and Hike Haliburton Festival: Fun on Snow.
“I see how you want to make the correlation and tie the two together, but it just seems maybe confusing,” said Danielsen. “When I first read it I thought, Hike Haliburton, this is not Hike Haliburton, this is something different. I thought that it might be confusing.”
Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt said she shared that concern.
“I like Haliburton Highlands Snowshoe Festival,” said Moffatt. “I can see, absolutely, the leverage with the existing event.”
“And they are actual hikes,” Virtanen said. “ ... it’s actual organized hikes, and they’ll be free, guided hikes like they are with Hike Haliburton.”
The committee eventually settled on Hike Haliburton Festival: Winter Edition.
The committee is also recommending to Haliburton County council that local tourism company Yours Outdoors, which is the longtime co-ordinator of the Hike Haliburton Festival, be hired to do pre-planning for the winter at a cost of $3,500. Contracts of less than $10,000 do not have to go out for tender, according to the county’s purchasing policy.